The Oregonian in Portland has “sacrified accuracy” in its 18-month series exposing the rise of methamphetamine addiction, contends Willamette Week. The weekly paper charges that the city’s big daily “has relied on bad statistics and a rhetoric of crisis, ultimately misleading its readers into believing they face a far greater scourge than the facts support.” Miami Herald media critic Glenn Garvin is disappointed in The Oregonian’s reliance on shaky numbers. “This idea that we are in a meth hell, it is just not right,” he says.
Meth use during the past four years has either declined or stayed flat, according to two major national drug-use studies, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Study. The Oregonian insists its coverage has hinged on a long-term rise in meth abuse, not the trends of the past several years. A review of The Oregonian’s coverage found no reference to the evidence that meth use had begun to plateau or even decline before its ongoing coverage began in 2004. The Oregonian has cited data that more people ar being treated for meth, but that is far from proof that the number of addicts is also rising. The Oregonian has not mentioned that the rise in treatment comes primarily from an increase in the number of arrestees ordered by drug courts to enroll.