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Glass half empty or full? What's the news?

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It’s interesting to see the different interpretations, emphases, and headlines of different news organizations on the same story.

The New York Times uses a headline, “Most Breast Cancer Sites Get It Right” over a story that begins:

The Internet is filled with unreliable health information and bogus claims. But sites dedicated to breast cancer information appear to have a high level of accuracy, a new study shows.

Texas researchers recently analyzed 343 Web pages, retrieved using search engines that consumers are likely to use when seeking information about breast cancer. The study, published online today in the medical journal Cancer, turned up 41 inaccurate statements on 18 of the Web sites, or an error rate of just 5.2 percent.

But that “just 5.2 percent” is the focus of the headline and the lead in a Reuters wire service story on the same study, but headlined, “Some breast cancer websites inaccurate.” The story begins:

Five percent of breast cancer Web sites have mistakes, with those involving alternative or complementary medicine the most likely to be misleading, U.S. researchers reported on Monday.

So is an error rate of “only” 5% good – and worthy of headlines? Or is an error rate of 5% “bad” and worthy of the headline?

Probably the best judges are women with breast cancer.

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