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What’s worse than a press release from hell? Sloppy reporting of it by mainstream media and bloggers, says Rich Gordon at E-Media Tidbits.
A couple of weeks ago, Nielsen//NetRatings put out a vague and poorly written press release (PDF) with a misleading headline that spread throughout the blogosphere (at least 17 citations on Technorati) and through Web and traditional news sources (40+ links on Google News). (Examples here and here and here)
While the majority of reports conclude that 21 percent of newspaper readers switched from print to online, Gordon points out, that’s not what the data really mean. “In fact, the data might mean that nobody has switched from print to online — that online newspapers are attracting a new audience that never read the print editions previously.
Most sites just excerpted the release. Even media outlets that assigned the story to a staff writer did little more than rewrite the release, with the same canned quotes, which Gordon calls “incomplete or sloppy reporting on the topic is a disservice to the industry — and to the society.”