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Journalistic integrity

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Introduction

While reading this news article, I discovered several grammatical and linguistic inconsistencies that impacted readability, so I simply felt compelled to highlight them as a reminder that journalistic integrity is still important. I have categorized the issues and provided reference sources for educational purposes.

Conciseness and clarity

Analysis

The comparative adjective quicker is complemented by the adverbial prepositional phrase in those who are vaccinated. Thus, the hinge element, which should in fact be than, not rather than, is superfluous.

“But you may clear the virus more rapidly if you have good antibody from the vaccine … and therefore the antigen test may become negative quicker in those who are vaccinated rather than the unvaccinated,” he added.

Global News

Summary/Revision

But you may clear the virus more rapidly if you have good antibody from the vaccine . . . and therefore the antigen test may become negative quicker in those who are vaccinated rather than the unvaccinated.

Logical fallacy in a faulty statement of condition

Analysis

Here, we have a logical fallacy in that it is implied that infectiousness is a consequence of an antigen test. This fallacy is perpetuated when the writer is not adherent to the fact that conditional statements of cause and effect must have a logical protasis (the cause) that precedes an equally logical apodosis (consequence).

“If the antigen test is dependent on the amount of virus in your upper respiratory tract, you will still be infectious . . . in the first few days,” said Dr. Earl Rubin, an infectious disease specialist and a division director of pediatric infectious diseases at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

Global News

Summary/Revision

If Because the antigen test is dependent on the amount of virus in your upper respiratory tract, you will still have to be infectious.

Incorrect use of complementizers, i.e., how, whether

Analysis

A different complementizer (a word that performs a grammatical function) is required to communicate certain logic, such as the subordinate conjunction because instead of the complementizer how.

Rubin explains that how quickly a vaccinated person clears the virus doesn’t necessarily mean that rapid antigen tests aren’t working.

Global News

Rubin adds there’s a debate among health experts on whether antigen tests may not be as sensitive to the newer variants of COVID-19, like Omicron.

Global News

Summary/Revision

Rubin explains that how quickly because a vaccinated person clears the virus quickly doesn’t necessarily mean that rapid antigen tests aren’t working.
Rubin adds there’s a debate among health experts on whether that antigen tests may not be as sensitive to the newer variants of COVID-19, like Omicron. (Note: May indicates medium possibility.)

A reduced single-word adjective that results in a logical, or at least a very questionable, noun phrase

Analysis

The question after reading the following is what is a pooled sensitivity?

In February 2022, the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table published findings from an analysis of preprint studies suggesting that the pooled sensitivity of rapid antigen tests for detecting Omicron infections is about 37 per cent, compared to 81 per cent for the Delta variant.

Global News

Summary/Revision

The answer has been resolved after placing the key adjective in a reduced adverb clause instead of a noun phrase with a predicative adjective. Although the grammatical constituent of the adjective is a very heavy noun phrase, the head of which is findings, it is now clear what the adjective was intended to modify.

In February 2022, the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table published findings from an analysis of preprint studies suggesting that the pooled sensitivity of rapid antigen tests for detecting Omicron infections, when pooled, is about 37 per cent, compared to 81 per cent for the Delta variant.

Lack of proper clause-compounding that leads to parsing issues, i.e., “garden path” sentences

Analysis

The “garden path” sentence description

Sly explains that the amount of immunity a person has built up, how much of the virus a person can spread to others and how serious a person’s disease is, are all dependent on the viral load, which is the amount of virus a person has in their system.

Global News

Summary/Revision

What tells the reader that the above-highlighted section of text is not an appositive is the word are. Up until then, the reader has been sent down a garden path. Hence, the proposition should be recast:

Sly explains that the amount of immunity a person has built up, that how much of the virus a person can spread to others and that how serious a person’s disease is are all dependent on the viral load, which is the amount of virus a person has in their system.

Logical fallacy

Analysis

You don’t have to look far in today’s newspaper or online news or listen too long to the news to hear logical fallacies. Our hope is that news reports will present facts and that commentary, where cases are built for or against interpretations of those facts, will be clearly labeled as commentary. Unfortunately, the line between hard news and commentary has become increasingly blurred. All it takes is comparing the coverage of an event by CNN and by Fox News to see that. Any controversial topic brings out flawed logic. The more controversial the issue, the more flawed the logic is likely to be because when emotions get involved, they can outweigh reason. Bias can change the way a story is covered simply because of what is included and what is left out. To be fair, reporting the facts alone of a case often includes a person’s stated reasons for his or her actions, and these reasons often include their own faulty logic.

Macmillan Teaching Community

The following commentary is an example of logical fallacy used to stoke fear. Even though one of the overriding reasons for vaccination is the fact that one could be asymptomatic, asymptomatic carriers of the virus is not the current argument for why “vaccinated Canadians can have COVID-19 symptoms despite testing negative.”

“You don’t actually know who’s virus-positive who’s walking around. It could be the person sitting next to you on the bus. They may be shedding the virus every time they open their mouths . . . and you don’t know it,” Sly said.

Global News

Instead, the article itself suggests that a high vaccine coverage (which we already know is a fact in Canada) is the reason why:

“This means people who are carriers of the virus may not be getting tested at all because they don’t have any symptoms and don’t think they have COVID-19; if they do happen to get tested, it’s often negative.

Global News

So why may carriers, who may not even know they are carriers, not be getting tested?

Summary/Revision

Therefore, a less subjective or less biased argument to replace the author’s own would be that our antibodies are keeping infection, or the viral protein, in check.

Garie McIntosh
Garie McIntosh
Garie started out in administration in the fields of healthcare, project management and database development. Since 2016, he has been working to further develop himself as a fiction writer while working on his English grammatical and linguistic pursuits. One aspect of his career that he focuses on is to write novels and educate others on the effective use of English in literary manuscripts. The objective of this focus is to make the elements and tools of his own success available through the educational and grammatical linguistic material that he produces. Garie is now a fiction writer and a grammar enthusiast. He has developed teaching and educational methods, editing products and publishing solutions that help writers meet traditional publishing standards. He created the business and modelled it to meet a personal need that became apparent to him while he studied writing and narratology. His first novel, What’s in a Name, and two other books to be published will form a series of inter-related novels in a thematic trilogy called The Barred-Spiral Trilogy. Google knowledge panel

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