It'll be on the nightly news and the front page of just about every newspaper: a panel of experts says that cell phones might cause cancer.
The reality is far different from the scare factor. So far, the best explanation I've seen is right here at Web MD.
Writer Daniel J. DeNoon says it this way: "In finding cell phones to be 'possibly carcinogenic,' the IARC (the International Agency for Research on Cancer) means that heavy cell phone use might -- or might not -- cause a specific form of brain cancer called glioma. The finding means that research is urgently needed to find out whether cell phones actually cause cancer, and how they might do it."
Here's what's tricky for news organizations reporting the story: this announcement proves nothing. It will be adopted as fact by those already convinced that weird stuff results from cell phone use. But what the content actually says is that more research is needed.
Typically, that's not how viewers and readers react. When I was editor of the Sentinel, I hated these one-off medical stories because they cause a big splash and then disappear from view. Same deal with what we used to call "disease of the day" and "medical breakthrough" stories.
Science and daily journalism often don't work well together. Sure, this development about cell phones is newsworthy. And considering how many people are yakking away on their mobiles, the issue is important.
But the news actually is that more research is needed. That headline doesn't always sell papers.