One thing copy editors do is question numbers in stories that don't seem right. Once the wrong stuff gets into print — and into bytes — it gains a new authority.
These days, big howlers still get corrected, but I suspect more such stories containing mistakes or misleading data will just get shuffled to the too-weird-to-be-true department.
The print Strib's roundup page of news, headed "talkers," included a photo and truncated version of this AP this story about proposed new pint glasses for British pubs.
There are about 87,000 alcohol-related glass attacks each year, with many resulting in hospital visits, Home Secretary Alan Johnson said as he introduced the two prototype shatterproof pint glasses.
The Pioneer Press ran the photo online, too, and at last check, 24 commenters mainly cast aspersions on Brits and government regulation. No one questioned the quoted figure.
As an editor, my reaction would be, really? Has someone been drinking Buckfast?
According to this item from last year:
For whatever reason, the British Home Office, which is the lead government department for immigration and passports, drugs policy, counter-terrorism, police, and science and research, has taken a keen interest in the 5,500 people who are attacked with glasses and bottles every year in England and Wales.
Earlier this week, I found a reference to a "73-times greater" difference that seemed impossible to me. It had quoted a citation in a paper by a PhD researcher that was republished and presumably read by a number of knowledgeable people since it was presented and distributed to policy makers and made available on the web about two years ago.
The real difference was 73-percent greater.
What is the right statistic for alcohol-related glass attacks — is the Home Secretary giving worldwide numbers, for instance? I have other things to do today.
Unfortunately, so do a lot of former newspaper copy editors.