Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesday Media Rant: Stories That Won't Go Away

Every Sunday or Monday following a Badgers home football game, like clockwork, the local paper and several of the electronic news media tell us how many people got tossed from the game, how many got arrested, and how many got some sort of ticket.

This past weekend, during the NorthWestern game, where the Badgers laid a claim on the Rose Bowl, we were informed that 19 people were arrested and 43 ejected from the game. Camp Randall Stadium holds 80,321 people. So if you add the 19 arrested and the 43 ejected, you get 62 – which is 0.000772 percent of the crowd. Not quite one-tenth of one percent.

And this is “news”?

In the “worst” game for arrests and ejections at Camp Randall this year, the Ohio State game, where the Badgers beat a #1-ranked team, 35 were arrested and a little over a hundred were given the heave-ho. Whoah….that’s over one-tenth of one percent of the crowd! Now that’s NEWS, pardner. NOT.

It’s one of those stories that’s reported every time simply because the information is easily available. Not one scintilla of thought goes into the writing and reporting of such a story, yet – there it is, week after week.

And then there’s the “number of hunters who had a heart attack while deer hunting” story. I did the math a few years ago, as part of a consulting project, and discovered that the number of men who had a heart attack WHILE hunting was statistically much lower than the number of non-deer hunting men in the general population who had a heart attack.

Wanna know what kills us old, fat white guys? It ain’t deer hunting. It’s snowfall.

And don’t even get me going about the “busiest shopping day of the year!!!!!” stories which proliferate on electronic media the day after Thanksgiving. They’ve been wrong every year for the last decade – it’s usually the Saturday before Christmas – but this year, given the phenomenal hype and the month-long lead-up to Black Friday, it may actually turn out to have been the busiest shopping day of the year.

Not that anyone except the merchants will really care.

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