March 5, 2024

Get the facts. Spell them right.

Hi there,

As I’ve said before, the theme of the week is normally a last-minute accident. I thought it was going to be euthanasia, but suddenly to my surprise, it is editorial accuracy. This has been prompted by a small controversy in the journal Current Oncology. A Canadian opponent of euthanasia and assisted suicide wrote a stinging attack. His opponents have gone through it with a fine-tooth comb and found numerous errors in his article, mostly small. But small or large, errors discredit an article and its opinions.

The second was a headline in that sober, dryasdust journal, the Daily Mail. It shrieked that Britain’s National Health Service is killing off 115,000 patients a year. If you read more closely, the allegations seem quite flimsy. But within hours, the news was all over the internet.

When I was a cadet journalist, one of the lessons beat into my head was: don’t bother about whether it’s moral or immoral; just spell the names right. A newspaper’s credibility rests upon its accuracy of its news as much or more than on the intelligence of its opinion page. 

At BioEdge, we do try to be accurate, but I know that we sometimes fall down in small details. We welcome your corrections.


Michael Cook
Editorial accuracy is not sufficient, but it is necessary.