Today I notice an item in “The Sun” newspaper a headline (approx from memory)
“Marathon runner collapses in 73° heat”
This example made me wonder whether the media actually want a single system of measurement any more than retailers and advertisers who exploit the two-systems muddle. Clearly 23° would not have had the desired impact from their point of view.
Could this be the real ulterior motive of the BBC et al?
5 thoughts on “Sensationalising with the help of Fahrenheit”
I don’t understand how 73 is any more sensational than 23. It’s a very warm day for April – though I wouldn’t have known that from the farenheit temperature. I can just about see how “100 degrees f” is a sensational way of saying 38 degrees C – it’s a big, round number and very hot for the UK. 73 is none of these things, and just looks ignorant. The Sun clearly doesn’t know what units are correct for reporting temperature.
It’s hardly surprising that The Sun insists on using Fahrenheit since it is part of the same group that owns Sky News who are also guilty of using the same archaic units.
It seems recently that Imperial units, even the ones that haven’t been used for many years such as Fahrenheit, are starting to creep back into use; I even complained to Virgin Atlantic a few months ago because their in-flight information systems only gave information in feet, miles and fahrenheit and unlike other airlines didn’t even show alternate between that and metric alternatives!
The news media, both print and broadcast, are in an ideal position to help educate the public but don’t seem to be interested in doing so, most probably because they wouldn’t be able to print anti-metric stories on slow news days if they did! More’s the shame that the BBC won’t take the lead and put their motto “to inform and educate” into practice!
In the broiling summer of 1947 the temperature in Maastricht reached about 38.5 degrees. In that time the Fahrenheit scale was dying in the Netherlands, yet for some people 100 degrees (Fahrenheit) was still a meaningful number. Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit has lived and worked in the Netherlands for a large part of his life. On that day in 1947 with its ‘100 degrees’ for some, my parents married. This year however, we are wondering whether the number ’40’ will get a special meaning. April has been extremely warm, and this year might be the one in which the barrier of 40 degrees Celsius will be reached or even broken if current weather patterns persist.
The current Climate Change TV commercial being run by the government is using the same ploy and uses what sounds like a clip from a TV or radio report which says something along the lines of “at 100 degrees fahrenheit today was the hottest day on record”. It’s bad enough that the government are using our money to sensationalise the whole climate change issue anyway, but they could at least use metric temperatures!
This one comes up again on the 50th anniversary of the big freeze of 1962/3. The BBC / Chris Packham Winter watch documentary ran many news reports and documentaries of the day. I was very interested as to be reminded of how things were back then. Temperatures were of course mentioned quite often, down to 17 degrees and such. Not once in the whole programme did I hear the word “Fahrenheit”, just as I was expecting. Just as today “Celsius” is seldom used, just taken for granted.
The point is that by using the word itself the media are accepting that they are using a unit that the public are not expecting and do not understand, just pure sensationalism.
For those that do not know, Chris Packham is a 100% metric man, he did try once to relate something into “St. Pauls Cathedrals”, presumably under pressure from the BBC, but had no idea and I gather he just started taking the mick instead.