Tuesday, December 8, 2009


The latest threat to public safety may or not be the Zhu Zhu pet, which is allegedly a cute mechanical hamster. Not long ago, a web site called the Good Guide posted that the toys contain a high level of antimony. You've likely heard about this, mainly because it seems that every news outlet between here and Jupiter has picked up the story, including NPR.

I heard NPR's story on the radio, and it's an interesting enough piece, but it has one curious omission: it doesn't name names. While we're told that the toys were tested by an outside lab, we're never told the name of the company. It's simply a "independent certified testing lab, which is highly regarded." That's all fine and good, but how can one evaluate the statement, without knowing the name of the laboratory? (Were you to place such a statement into a Wikipedia entry, you'd likely have it flagged for "weasel words.") Of course, the name might not mean anything to most, if not all, of the listening audience, so you could say that it makes sense to leave it out. Perhaps more puzzling is the fact that the name of the company that makes the Zhu Zhu pets is never given during the piece - all of the references are indirect, like "the company that makes the Zhu Zhu," the "Zhu Zhu toymakers" or "the Zhu Zhu people." The apparent allergy to the name "Cepia LLC," is beyond me, especially in a piece that seems specifically geared to exonerate the company.

Perhaps I'm the only person that this stood out for, so I won't spend any more time on it. But it does seem strange that a news organization would seem so invested avoiding the company's name in this particular story - they'd had no trouble mentioning it in an earlier piece on the toys by the same reporter.

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