Journalism and comprehension

These days, I get an ulcer each time I read a newspaper. The level of copy-editing has reached appalling lows, and there are typos on a daily basis on the front pages of various papers and even in headlines of lead stories. But today, tucked away inside the HT city, I found a piece of such poor reporting that I really saw red. The journalist wants to write about the emergency contraception pill but has ended up confusing the reader and herself about which pill. It actually comes across as if taking normal contraceptive pills lead to all kinds of side effects. I don't know whether it was sheer ignorance on the journalist's part, poor writing skills or malicious intent.

The article in question: "Sanyola, 23, is happily in a relationship. She and her S boyfriend of two years have a healthy sexual life. Never the one to shy away from taking a birth control pill, by now Sanyola has lost count of how many she has actually popped in — blissfully unaware of the side effects.

Dr Anup Dhir, a reconstructive surgeon and andrologist atApollo says, "These emergency contraceptive pills were approved by the government only to deal with unavoidable situation such as forced intercourse and unwanted pregnancy.

But if one takes it on a regular basis it will result in extreme hormonal imbalance and in some cases cancer, though theoretically it is yet to be proved." Dhir reasons, "Why those high intensity doses when you have condoms in the market?" Reportedly, the number of school girls who consider it fashionably smart to pop birth control pills has increased remarkably and almost 70 to 80 per cent are in the age group of 18 to 25 years.A quick check with local drug stores confirms the report. Durga, a chemist owner at Malviya Nagar says, "Every day we sell at least 810 pills." Though the sale of contraceptive pills over the counter was made legal by the health ministry to safeguard them from unwanted sex and to avoid pregnancy, the practice is becoming a frivolous day-to-day activity among the teens."

It really gets my goat to see such a combination of bad writing compounded by poor editing. What's worse is that many young girls may see this, misread the information contained and actually opt out of birth control pills, with disastrous consequences including abortions by quacks. The editor of this part of the paper needs a good kick in the pants, as does the irresponsible journalist!



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