Thursday, 3 February 2011

Churnalism to sell...films, Botox

Last Tuesday, several of the papers printed a 'story' that was designed to sell an app and get a recruitment agency's name in print.

A day or so later, the Mail, Express and Sun ran stories about a piece of (as yet unexplained) research on belief in the afterlife which coincided with the release of the film Hereafter.

Then yesterday, another dodgy bit of PR nonsense got the same treatment. It was also designed to sell something and was treated very seriously by some papers. It seems to have started in the Evening Standard in an article by their Health and Social Affairs Correspondent Sophie Goodchild. She wrote:

Young women are developing premature wrinkles from staring at their smartphones all day...

Really? Who says so?

...says a top cosmetic doctor.

Ah. The article goes on to name the doctor, reveal where his clinic is, and let him get away with saying stuff like this:

"The natural tendency is to squint at the screen when reading messages and as a result some people develop this area of tightness/small frown lines between the brows, which is easily rectified with the light use of Botox by an experienced doctor."

Who could he have in mind?

There's no evidence provided, no explanation as to how he knows the wrinkles are caused by using smartphones, nor any reason given as to why this doesn't seem to affect men.

But he's backed up by a beauty therapist, who claims to have:

noticed a huge difference over the past 18 months in my clients' faces

Unsurprisingly, she recommends a slightly different treatment which she can provide.

The same 'story' then ran in the Mail and the Sun with the same terms, the same quotes and the same 'experts' - all in the same order - to describe what all the articles called a 'phenomenon'.

There's no scepticism, no challenging - just lazy Phil Space churnalism.

1 comment:

  1. It's funny how the Mail will attempt to discredit or quote-mine any proper, factually supported scientific study that doesn't fit their agenda (such as climate change) but will accept, without any criticism, any supernatural or pseudo-scientific claim that pops up!

    Actually, it's not funny at all. It's scary and depressing.


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