Misinformation and a lack of technical understanding have been at the centre of the porn blocking story. The idea, in summary, is for UK ISPs to block porn and for people to have to opt out of web filtering. Mainstream media reporting of the issue has hardly been helpful, especially from the Daily Mail. So why not botch the numbers?
One of the things you quickly learn as a specialist journalist (in my case, as someone who writes largely about technology) is the woeful nature of the mainstream media coverage of your subject area.
It's well known that many journalists, trained in arts and humanities subjects, simply don't understand numbers, which is why so many science and medicine stories go awry (not to mention spurious surveys).
But it's not just maths and stats: coverage of almost any kind of specialist subject, in broadsheets or tabloids, on television or radio, is remarkably poor. We regularly see technology stories misrepresented, badly written or sometimes completely wrong. Talk to a science journalist and they'll tell you the same about science stories, and talk to a music journalist and they'll tell you the same thing about music news.
What brought this irritation to the fore was the announcement earlier this week that the country's four biggest internet service providers (ISPs) are to introduce new options for people to block pornography from their internet connections.
Unfortunately, nearly everyone who reported the story got it wrong.
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