public health, disease clusters, statistics
The flagship newspaper for the state of Delaware, the News Journal, has been instrumental in disseminating information from state-generated reports of cancer clusters to its readers over the past 7 years. The stories provide colorful maps of census tracts designated as clusters, often on the front page, and detail the types of elevated cancers found in these tracts and the purported relationship of elevated cancer rates to local industry pollution. Though the News Journal also provided its readers with advice about interpreting these data with caution, it uncritically presented these data. Using the state’s unusual definition and measurement of elevated cancer incidence as cancer clusters, it transformed questionable statistics into an alarming public issue. This article critically examines these news reports and the state-generated reports they utilized.
Perez, Victor W., Joel Best, and Rachel J. Bacon. "Cancer Clusters in Delaware? How One Newspaper Turned Official Statistics into News." Numeracy 8, Iss. 1 (2015): Article 7. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5038/1936-46126.96.36.199
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