Tuesday 26 January 2010

Repetitive Sex Injury

Last week there was an article in the Sun which states that too much sex can cause carpal tunnel syndrome.

The Sun referred to an article in a medical journal called Medical Hypotheses. Unfortunately, the journal journal isn't one which is peer-reviewed and so anything can be published in it, including articles by AIDS denalists.

The Sun doesn't link to the article in question – nor is it even named – but it appears to be the one entitled "The role of sexual intercourse in the etiology of carpal tunnel syndrome".

Unfortunately, I am unable to obtain the full article, but the journal in which it is published, says a lot about its credibility.

UPDATE: Via the comments, I have been emailed me a PDF copy of the article in question. After looking through the article, I don't see anything which causes me to change my views on the credibility of the article. In my view, if there was something there, it would have been published in a more-credible journal...

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Blue movies

Media Monkey...
So how many times can the Sun find pretexts for mentioning James Cameron's movie Avatar in its news pages? Answer: quite a few. "Rugby in a 3D first ... 3D fever, begun by film Avatar", "3D set to go seedy ... adult film makers have jumped on the Avatar bandwagon", "District 9 review: James Cameron's £300m breathtaking Avatar is currently taking cinemas by storm ...", "Ava-Ta Very Much ... The huge success of 3D blockbuster Avatar is helping Cineworld to battle the recession" and so on. The Sun is owned by News International, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation which also owns Twentieth Century Fox, which made ... Avatar.

No mention of the 'downside' of seeing the movie, though (via Anorak)...
"When I woke up this morning after watching Avatar for the first time yesterday, the world seemed ... gray. It was like my whole life, everything I've done and worked for, lost its meaning," Hill wrote on the forum. "It just seems so ... meaningless. I still don't really see any reason to keep ... doing things at all. I live in a dying world."

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Fury erupts as we repost something taken down elsewhere.

What a truly wonderful piece of journalism this is:

A FACEBOOK snap of a baby posing with a cigarette in his mouth sparked fury last night.

Pals of six-month-old Ollie's mum Rebecca Davey, 18, were horrified when the photo was posted by a relative on the social networking site.

The picture shows Ollie in a striped babygro with the unlit fag between his lips.

Shocked friends complained to Facebook bosses and the snap was later removed.

Thankfully though the Sun has managed to obtain a copy of the photograph, probably from said "shocked friends" who after complaining to "Facebook bosses" swiftly sold the story to the daily newspaper of record.

It's difficult to know whether there's been any potential infringement here of the Press Complaints Commission's code, presumably on the grounds that the image was first made available by the family themselves. Otherwise the second clause on children is fairly clear:

ii) A child under 16 must not be interviewed or photographed on issues involving their own or another child’s welfare unless a custodial parent or similarly responsible adult consents.

Doubtless the Sun would plead a public interest defence - if this is what they're doing to the child, even as a joke, then the authorities should be informed, as they were. Yet considering that Facebook took it down, doubtless as a breach of the network's code, why reprint the photograph when a description would have sufficed? Or is it just that there isn't much of a story, which there isn't anyway, without the photograph?

If it didn't involve a young mother, who is also naturally pictured complete with cigarette in her mouth, it's even more doubtful whether it would have found its way onto the Sun's website. What was intended as a joke, even if one in very poor taste, has been blown out of all proportion. How does this help anyone, considering the police felt there was no need for further action to be taken, except the newspaper? Answer came there none.

Friday 8 January 2010

A storm in the propaganda cup.

You get the feeling the Sun isn't even bothering to actually look at the results of its snap poll carried out after the "snowstorm coup". Proof is in today's leader comment:

A STORM in a teacup. A distraction. We're just getting on with business.

Those were the reactions from ministers, including the Prime Minister, to Wednesday's attempted leadership coup.

But however hard Labour try to play it down, the botched plot has been a disaster for the party.

As The Sun predicted, voters have been massively turned off by the spectacle of Labour feuding while we are in recession and at war.

By massively turned off, the Sun presumably means that according to their very own poll, Labour's support has dropped by a truly cataclysmic, err, 1%. By the same yardstick, the botched plot was presumably also a disaster for the Liberal Democrats, whose support also dropped by 1%. The other disaster is the paper's truly terrible graphic depictions of the leaders, with Clegg coming off the worst:

That's Alfred E. Neuman, isn't it?

Tuesday 5 January 2010

Off their Nutts.

Back in November the Sun decided that it was time to resort to the old tabloid trick of attacking someone by association when they couldn't lay a finger on the target himself personally. David Nutt, a senior adviser on drugs to the ACMD, had just been defenestrated by Alan Johnson for daring to argue again that cannabis isn't as dangerous as either the government claims or its classification suggests, so naturally it was time to go scouting around his children's social networking pages to see if they could find any pay dirt.

The result, an article which accused his son Stephen of partaking in cannabis because he was smoking what was clearly a roll-up and not a normal, honest, cigarette, his daughter Lydia of drinking underage, and the by no means hypocritical sneering at his eldest son for appearing naked in the snow in Sweden, ended up being removed with days of it appearing.

Yesterday the Press Complaints Commission published Stephen Nutt's letter of complaint on their website (h/t Tabloid Watch):

The complaint was resolved when the newspaper removed the article from the website, undertook not to repeat the story and published the following letter:

FURTHER to your article about photographs of me on my Facebook site, (November 14) I would like to make clear the pictures were not posted by me and while I had been drinking I was smoking a rolled-up cigarette which did not contain cannabis as the article insinuated. My younger sister Lydia was not intoxicated, so was not drinking under age. My older brother lives in Sweden where it is custom to use a sauna followed by a ‘romp' in the snow in winter. He was neither drunk nor under the influence of intoxicants. Innocuous photographs were taken out of context in an attempt to discredit my father's work.

Which is about as comprehensive and wounding a clarification as ever gets published in the Sun. The article was so obviously in breach of the PCC's code on privacy, not to mention accuracy, that it should never have been published in the first place though; why then should the paper get away without making anything approaching an apology, only having to print a clarification buried away on the letters page? As long as the PCC remains so toothless in the face of such egregious breaches of its code, the campaigning will continue not just for reform but potentially for independent regulation of the press.