For those of you still uncertain about when and to whom you send a press release, an article that begins on page 5 of this issue may shed a little light. As business editor Diccon Hyatt’s piece explains, Community News Service now has arranged its 10 publications in two clusters. One is the “community” division, with seven papers providing school and municipal news, sports reports, and features on people and businesses of interest the community. So if you have an item of interest to residents of Hamilton, Ewing, West Windsor-Plainsboro, Hopewell, Lawrence, Bordentown, or Robbinsville, send it on over to firstname.lastname@example.org. (No need to ask permission)
Then there is the “metro” division, including U.S. 1, the Princeton Echo, and the Trenton Downtowner. These papers emphasize intriguing people and businesses, and place an emphasis on things to do and places to go after work and without the kids (or grandkids). The metro papers are edited to appeal not just to residents but also to people who work in the community or are visiting. If you have an item of interest to one of these papers, send an E-mail to editor Richard K. Rein: email@example.com.
#b#To the Editor: Lies, Damn Lies . . .#/b#
I am looking at the June 29 cover of U.S. 1. In place of the usual picture, there are three sentences printed in large type: “Ask the average woman what the greatest danger to her health is and, according to the latest surveys, more than half of them will say breast cancer. But your chance of dying from it is one in thirty. For heart disease, your chance of dying is one in three.”
With a bit of help from Google, I looked up the statistics from a reliable source — the National Center for Health Statistics. The last sentence on your front page turns out to be incorrect — the chance is actually closer to one in five.
However, even if the statistic you cite were accurate, it would not be very useful. The right question to ask for comparing risks is not “What are my chances of dying from each possible cause?” Everyone will die of something. The death rate from all causes always has been and always will be 100 percent. The right question to ask is “What are my chances of dying this year from each possible cause?”
The tables I found did not separate breast cancer from other cancers, but they show that for women under 85, the risk of dying from heart disease is less than the risk of dying from cancer. For women between 35 and 74 years of age, it is only about half as great.
I suppose it would unreasonable to expect a newspaper to verify every statistic in every article. But I think it is reasonable to expect you not to make a misleading statistic the central focus of your front page.
Samuel A. Livingston
The writer is a psychometrician who has worked at Educational Testing Service since 1974. Our editor did check that statistic and found several sources agreeing with it. But statistics aside, the feeling of the women interviewed in the story is that heart disease in women continues to be a low profile ailment, despite its pervasive presence.