That example par excellence of stellar journalistic accomplishment The Melbourne Age, tells us this morning that iPods and iPads are nothing less than the Typhoid Mary of the looming global apocalyptic pandemic. Well, they stop just short of putting it exactly like that, but it is hard to understand why they’re running an article headlined ‘Apple Store Teeming With Germs’, if not to warn good citizens about the looming plague.

Because they surely wouldn’t be doing it just to bash Apple…

The story, if you haven’t guessed, is that demonstration models of the abovementioned devices on display in Apple stores, can transfer germs from one prospective customer to another – a concept that seems to send the journalist responsible for this rubbish (one Asher Moses)1 into virtual paroxysms of hand-wringing. The article give us all kinds of ominous facts and figures, with commentary by various and sundry ‘experts’, about how iGadgets in Apple stores (mentioned solely and specifically) are contaminated with various kinds of icky bacteria. It’s all so very ewwwwww.2

In a further attempt to give the story credence, Mr Moses happily goes on to conflate a completely separate dataset with his speculation. He breathlessly inform us that Britain’s Which? magazine, in consultation with a ‘hygiene’ expert, examined a sample of 30 (unnamed brand) mobile phones and found that:

…the average handset carries 18 times more potentially harmful germs than a flush handle in a men’s toilet.


Aside from the fact that a study like that (even if it is executed properly) is completely irrelevant to this story,3 please to note the journalistic weasel word ‘potentially’ in that quote. Let me give you a Tetherd Cow Ahead rephrasing of that:

•Experts find that stairs are potentially life threatening!

•Experts find that water is potentially lethal!

•Experts find that newspapers are potentially dangerous to your mental health! (Oh wait. That’s true no matter how you look at it).

This stupid piece of scare-mongering fluff is a shining example of why I will be happy to see newspapers go the way of the town crier, and hopefully, their owners and editors hauled off by tumbrel. Honestly – what is the point of such a story?

Let me ask you, Mr Moses, why isn’t this piece about the thousands of other things that are touched by human hands in the course of a normal day? Like escalator handrails? Or lift buttons? Or money? Or salt shakers in McDonalds? Or ATMs? Or public phones? Or demonstration products belonging to other electronics goods retailers????

Could it be, perhaps, that the mileage you would get out of that might not be so… convenient… to your purpose of trashing a successful company that makes products that promise to be the biggest threat to your livelihood since the advent of television?

  1. Well, I guess he’s not entirely responsible. Like pretty much all modern journalism it’s just a story recycled from somewhere else – in this case, The New York Daily News. []
  2. It’s hardly surprising that the bacteria mentioned are in evidence – they are among the most common on the planet. []
  3. Consider this – the flush handle in a men’s toilet is probably cleaned at least once a day, if not more frequently. It is NOT a good benchmark against which to measure anything except other things that get cleaned as frequently. It’s irrelevant in respect to phones (inasmuch as you could choose ANYTHING which doesn’t get cleaned much with which to compare it – tv remotes, say, or car keys) and it’s certainly meaningless in terms of iPads in Apples stores unless you have some kind of tangible link. This is a journalist using data recklessly and indiscriminately to attempt to add weight to an article that is lighter than The Zero. []