The January 12, 2010 headline of The Washington Examiner was irresponsible, reckless, and salacious. Splashed across the front page read: “Terror threat to city water.” As a water security guy, I was sucked in. After reading the informative (if not boring) article about DC water’s switch in disinfection processes, a change that was publicly announced three years ago, I realized I had been Rickrolled by a dying paper’s feeble attempt to increase its dwindling circulation.
Two weeks after the would-be “underwear bomber’s” attack on December 25, public concerns over terrorism remain elevated. That’s why I was left scratching my head, wondering why the Examiner would choose to frame the city’s change from gaseous chlorine to sodium hypochlorite within the context of an imminent terrorist threat. While the city surely considered security as one of the weighing factors (among others such cost benefit, risk assessment, and safety factors) during their decision-making process, the move to sodium hypochlorite was not made in response to a terrorist threat.
Yet, reading the Examiner’s headline, it seems the move comes as a reaction to a specific threat – that’s like yelling “fire” in a crowded theater because someone brought a lighter. Talk about the opposite of responsible journalism!
At a time when newspaper readership is down, this feeble approach to move copies comes across as desperate. If this is the direction the Examiner is headed, it’s time to end the misery and pull the plug.