Vicious attacks by girls increasing or decreasing?

Joe Littrell alerted me to an amusing piece on which takes the air out of a Boston Globe story about the disturbing trend of "Vicious Attacks By Girl Cliques Seen Increasing." Jack Shafer points out that the article contradicts its premise in its own subtitle, where it admits, "Despite Police Statistics, Violence Causing Worries." In other words, police statistics show that girl-on-girl violence is decreasing, but the article tries to spin it the other way, presumably because a rise in girls fighting each other sounds more intriguing, especially when you can lead off with vivid descriptions of girls fighting such as this one:
They use fists, knives, and razors to hurt each other. Before fights, they smear their faces with petroleum jelly so their adversaries' fingernails glide off the slick surface and won't cause scars.

The Boston Globe article manages to use two of the journalistic ploys that I list in Hippo Eats Dwarf: The phony crime wave (in which reporters grab readers' attention on slow news days by reporting crimes that would normally go unmentioned), and the generalization from a single example (in which the reporter claims to have discovered a trend, based on a sample size of one or two examples).

Journalism Law/Police/Crime

Posted on Fri Sep 07, 2007


I am oftimes poorly served by memory, but I have a nagging feeling that the subject of GirlFights has risen before amongst these hallowed pages. I could be wrong, tho... it hasn't happened yet, but the law of averages will catch up to me sooner or later. That and those pesky bill collectors. Bastards
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Fri Sep 07, 2007  at  09:13 PM
Oh wow, another example of why journalists are not to be trusted. Did this Boston Globe reporter work for the NY Times before this?
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Fri Sep 07, 2007  at  10:26 PM
In a related case of the media pulling "stories" out of their asses, Bill O'Reilly of Fox "News" Channel recently did a big segment on the lesbian gangs of D.C.

Only trouble is, according to the D.C. police, there really aren't any lesbian gangs there.

Hey, why let the facts get in the way of a good scare story, right?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sun Sep 09, 2007  at  03:13 AM
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