Thursday, March 08, 2007

On Jumping to Conclusions

For journalists, it's easy to jump to conclusions. One hears some information and because he/she has heard something similar before, he/she thinks that the same thing is happening again. However, especially those writing stories about other people's personal affairs must pay particular attention to avoid that mistake.

Stories are about details, too. It's not difficult to notice them and write them down, but it is much harder to explain why those details are important to the story. Thus, reporters have to find out what the details are about. If someone is wearing a cross on a little golden chain, one would easily assume that he or she is a Catholic. But what if that's not so? What if these cross has a different meaning? What if it belonged to the person's late mother and he/she is wearing it to remember her?

There was a story in the newspaper today about an Italian woman who decided to have an abortion because some medical examinations results revealed that there is something terribly wrong with her fetus. Only after the abortion the doctors saw that the fetus was healthy. The article made it sound that the mother went against the recommendations of her doctors and decided for abortion although they suggested that they do some additional tests. Such stories are very emotional and probably anyone who reads them has an opinion on what happened. The problem with this story is that no one explained the reasons behind the woman's decision. Because of that the readers can jump to conclusion that the woman was at least an irresponsible and selfish mother. But we don't know why she made that decision. And journalists certainly can not write stories that might imply something that they really do not know.


Borut said...

Well, jumping to conclusions is a part of every story in every media. I'm speculating how the article would be also with mother's story. Mother would had to wait for two more weeks for a test which would with 45% of accuracy confirm baby's condition.

Because of the inaccuracy of second test and because a doctor who didn't allow any doubt in his medical competence advise her to do it as soon as possible, she decided for an abortion. After the abortion the doctor denied that he advised an abortion as soon as possible, but while their were talking he also mentioned an option of additional test.

By my opinion doctors do makes mistakes and it's much easier to blame it on the anonymous mother, then on doctors.

I take prematurity tests as double side blade. On one side there are good sides, but on the other side this tests are really inaccurate and they can ruin mother's peace in mind and as we read in the article can also kill the baby.

I find this tests not very serious. Just one true anecdote of mine. Everybody wants to know what sex is their fetus and when we were doing ultrasound of the fetus doctor asked us if we want to know the sex of our baby I said no, but I would like to know if he/she will be right wing or left wing political orientated. Doctor's assistant start laughing her guts out, but doctor didn't found that funny.

But it is isn't? I mean we want to know everything in advance, so when thing go wrong we're looking for who's responsible. It's clear to me .


Sonja said...

I agree. Whoever had a similar experience knows how hard is to make such a decision.

maja h. said...

is this like stereotipization?

Sonja said...

Yes, something similar. Basically, it is sensationalism.