Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Terminology turpitude: New York Times & the Pew Internet 'report' gaffe

I hadn't yet read all of the 13 articles in Decoding Your Health, a September 30th insert that was in the New York Times, and had bookmarked only one (You're Sick. Now What?) because I liked the title.

When Patients Looking for Second, Third Opinions Online popped up in the Seattle Times with the New York Times original byline yesterday morning, I figured I'd give it a read... and was promptly frustrated.

And 75 percent of online patients with a chronic problem told the researchers "their last health search affected a decision about how to treat an illness or condition," according to a Pew Report released last month, "The Engaged E-Patient Population."

What?! The Engaged E-Patient Population is not a (high caliber, comprehensive & identifiable source of survey information) Pew Internet report. It is a (completely undefined term, this time a verbatim perspective column written for a company) memo.

I griped about this back on August 28th.

I understand the pressure in journalism to get articles out fast. Honestly, I do. It's precisely because I feel Pew is misleading everyone from students to researchers (and now journalists) who are taught to trust them as a data source by mixing these 'memos' in with their regular reports that I'm far more frustrated with them than the New York/Seattle Times.

Would it be too much to ask to get your miscellaneous side projects into their own clearly defined section of your website and leave your excellent report data alone to avoid a repeat of this, Pew Internet?

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