Londonist enjoyed a rare lunch-break away from the whip-cracking editors today. There we were, skipping gaily through the shopping hordes, with the iPod Shuffle on full whack, when the front page headline of The Evening Stupid caught our eyes and made us stop dead, causing a mini pile-up of harrassed mothers in prams behind us: iPods Can Make You Deaf, it screamed.
Of course we weren't shocked enough to buy the newspaper, we just rushed back to the shackles on our desks to read the infobahn version of the article.
Now, we'll be honest, we take Standard headlines with a minefull of salt, and all sorts of things were racing through our mind ahead of being able to read the article:
Is it silly season yet?
Nope, an election took place only last week, and there's plenty of manoeuvrings, conspiracies and calumnies to report. We suspect the story just looked 'sexy' to the Standard and it doesn't do any harm to try and pull in the iPod-buying-high-disposable-income reader for the advertisers.
So, just iPods can make you deaf then?
Errr... no, the article, after its screaming headline, mentions "other players" and that's it. It's like they found some article from the eighties and subtituted 'iPod' for 'Walkman'. Of course, a headline that read "Listening to very loud music makes you deaf" wouldn't have quite the same appeal.
Unspecified 'experts' reckon the iPod's so popular that
the Standard needs to write more articles about it in order to sell more newspapers the issue is worth raising again. Curiously, the article reads like an advert for the iPod for a couple of paragraphs, before fatally weakening its position by then quoting more "recent research" which can only give statistics relating to "personal stereos", rather than iPods.
There must be some tenuous reason the research has picked on iPods in order to attract publicity and the Standard's picked up on an ostensibly generic non-London story?
Well, to be fair, the Standard says that Londoners are most at risk. The rattling of the tube apparently forces us to whack our iPod volumes up in order to drown out the background noise. Some bloke at the Royal United Hospital in Bristol who must be really desperate for funding or publicity said:
If you are on a Tube, you have to turn the player up to dangerous levels just to hear it. Over time, this is going to lead to problems like tinnitus and severe damage to the inner ear.
Hang on, didn't those blasted Frenchies force the iPod volume down anyway?
Yes, they did. Flippin' ages ago, in October 2002. Geek.com is just one of numerous sites to have covered the story that the volume of iPods sold within the EU must be limited to a maximum of 100dB. (Although, it must be said, Londonist's iPod Shuffle can reach far higher volumes than our bog-standard iPod.)
The Standard's article addresses this:
Apple said all iPods sold in Britain complied with EU volume standards, but refused to comment on the new research.
We're not bloody surprised Apple refused/can't be bothered to comment. This article seems like the worst kind of 'non news' based on spuriously-motivated research. We've whinged before and we'll do it again: London deserves a better newspaper.
Incidentally, if you want to risk tinnitus (and Londonist counsels you against this), try this google search. And, to be on the safe side, if you're getting a buzzing or ringing in your ears, you might want to reconsider your volume settings.