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Sex ‘survey’ déjà vu

August 7th, 2006

Dr Petra

Recently I posted about how Club International magazine managed to get two sex survey stories into the press within three weeks of each other, with nobody seeming to notice.

But today the media managed to miss they were reporting exactly the same survey as they’d covered less than a fortnight ago.

Two weeks ago the ‘survey’ for a female arousal oil claimed that sex for women was a ‘household chore’. Today it was more of the same, with a few tedious regional percentages to show how Londoners don’t feel like sex much whilst the Welsh are apparently quite randy, and a third of us ‘don’t have sex’.

The press coverage of two weeks ago used a the same ‘expert’ to front the story. Both lots of coverage showed how couples didn’t want sex much – which is of course ideal for a product that’s supposed to increase arousal.

Why did this story get into the press again? Well, it could be because this week is sexual health week and the company behind the product were jumping on that bandwagon. Or maybe some media outlets re-ran the story or kept it back for sexual health week. Or maybe the PR company promoting the product just got lucky and managed to push the story back into the headlines.

Metro, Sky News and the Mirror (amongst others) all covered the story without question or awareness that they were repeating old news. Whilst The Guardian criticised the survey, they still missed the real story here isn’t just a crummy survey-excuse-of -a-PR-exercise, it’s that the media didn’t notice they regurgitated a story.

The question here is why aren’t editors, sub editors or journalists picking up on this? I can appreciate if months or year go by you may not notice a repeat story, or that a different editor might not notice a similar story slipping by. But to not notice the exact same story’s been in the press a couple of weeks ago?

It’s not exactly difficult to check – simply visit google news or similar and type in the name of the product behind a survey (or a striking headline) and you’ll be able to see whether it’s been covered before, what was said, and if any findings have altered.

Because if journalists had bothered to do that today they’d have found the original press release for the arousal oil ‘survey’ and noticed how the findings were out there two weeks ago, it’s just that some of them also got repeated today.

A score for the PR agency, and of course great news for the makers of the arousal oil. Bad news for the public who’ve now been conned that we’re facing a national crisis of sexual disinterest by journalists with sex survey amnesia.

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