If you ever get that sneaking suspicion that too much of the authoritative-sounding facts in the news are mindlessly made up, it’s great when you find evidence of this. Everyone from the Daily Mail and the Sun, through the Croydon Advertiser and Shropshire Star, on to CNN, the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian blindly reported that “an estimated two billion people” watched the royal wedding.
Whenever real journalists complain that bloggers — mere amateurs! — couldn’t possibly do the work of professionals who have been through proper training, it’s exactly this kind of nonsense that permits you to stare at them, silently, before giving a little giggle and walking away.
There are lots of difficult and ambiguous things that anyone, professional or amateur, could understandably get wrong when reporting news. We all make mistakes and many things are complicated. But for all these very professional news outlets to repeat a “fact” that’s plainly wrong, without even attributing it to anyone, makes you wonder about everything they write.
Really, two billion people? At Sporting Intelligence Nick Harris has a piece in which he pulls out some other high viewing figures.
For example, according to the India Times, the viewership rating agency TAM said the most-watched TV event in India was the 2011 India vs Sri Lanka cricket world cup final, with 135 million viewers. That’s only 11.7% of the Indian population.
The Royal Wedding would have to do a lot, lot better than that in India, China, and many other populous parts of the world where TV ownership is less than in the “West” to reach a global audience of two billion. Even the most fervent royalist can’t think that’s likely.
The Royal Wedding Kate & William - Real Audio
Really, two billion people? Stop and think before you file that article.
Does anyone think for a moment that global viewing figures would be three-quarters the level of those in the UK itself? Yes, journalists, I know these are terribly big numbers to deal with but you did all that training, remember? You’re professionals. You’re supposed to question things and when something is as simple as one number, this shouldn’t be too much to ask.
If you want to get complicated you could ask whether the “actual” viewing figures, like those from BARB and TAM, have any basis in reality, or if they’re merely something the advertising-funded TV industry doesn’t want to look at too closely for fear their towers of money will come tumbling down… but maybe that’s too much to ask.
NATO increases military presence on Russia’s borders 2014-12-20 1:14
The Pentagon has confirmed the military buildup along Russia’s borders to ensure long-term “peace and stability” in the region.
Earlier Moscow accused NATO of a sharp increase in air activity and intelligence flights in the border zone.
Replying to RIA Novosti’s query on the increased number of NATO flights around Russia’s borders, a Pentagon representative told the news agency that the military ...
US-Cuba ties thaw, White House open to Castro visit 2014-12-20 1:14
A US visit by Cuban President Raul Castro is a possibility, the White House said, a day after he and US President Barack Obama announced a historic bilateral rapprochement.
With developments proceeding apace, a high-level US diplomat, Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, revealed she will travel to Havana in late January for the first direct talks to "begin the process ...
Scientists Find Evidence of Viking Presence in Arctic Canada 2014-12-20 0:05
A small stone artifact recovered from a Paleo-Eskimo site on Baffin Island is important evidence of a Viking presence in Arctic Canada around 1000 CE, says a team of scientists led by Dr Patricia Sutherland of the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
The ancient site, called Nanook, was first discovered in the 1960s by Dr Moreau Maxwell of Michigan State University.
Three views ...
Washed up Viking anchors leads to project digging up the ‘Spanish Vikings’ 2014-12-19 23:29
The fearsome reputation of the Vikings has made them the subject of countless exhibitions, books and films – however, surprisingly little is known about their more southerly exploits in Spain.
No comprehensive archaeological study of Viking sites in Spain has ever been carried out and now a University of Aberdeen researcher plans to dig up the ‘Spanish Vikings’ for the first ...
Pentagon launching missile defense blimps to patrol East Coast 2014-12-19 19:21
The US Army is set to begin testing its blimp-like surveillance airships, designed to help the military detect and destroy cruise missiles from attacking the nation’s capital and other East Coast cities.
The blimps at the center of the tests in Maryland are unmanned, 80-yard long, helium-filled aircraft that can float up to 10,000 feet in the air. At that height ...