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Re: Reuter's (was:'Thousands of dinosaur footprints found in Australia')



On Fri, 11 Jul 1997 19:25:21 -0700 Stanley Friesen writes:
>At 05:51 PM 7/9/97 -0400, Wabandco@aol.com wrote:
>> ...Anybody have any ideas on what can be done to improve Reuter's
>> accuracy of reporting?  I think just about every such report I've 
>>seen on dinosaurs has had glaring errors; I presume that their 
>>inaccuracies aren't limited to their coverage of paleontology...>>
>>
>Hardly.  Every newspaper article on a scientific subject I know 
>something about has contained errors of some sort.
>
>So, not only is it not limited to dinosaurs, it is not limited to 
>Reuter's

The problem is that journalists are NOT scientists and generally do not
have a clue about science. They just want a story, leaving scientists
stuck with correcting the mistaken ideas the public gets from the story.
Didn't we just go through this with a certain movie recently? <G>

For example -
AZ had a mammoth find last weekend - there were media people all over the
place. I wish I had a nickel for every time one of them said we were
"archaeologists", called the mammoth a "dinosaur" or "a link from man to
dinosaurs", or because there was a blackish-colored rock found, turned it
into "charcoal" thereby making it a "kill site". One reporter even called
the dig an "evacuation"! Every one of these errors were corrected by
paleontologists on site, yet they all STILL found their way into
published and broadcast reports, including the AP! It's taken nearly all
week to get some accuracy, but only because this is a "hot" local story
has there been any follow-up, thus giving scientists a chance to make
corrections.   

Most (nearly all) of the accurate comments by paleontologists on site
went on the cutting room floor, replaced by "fluff" from the news
readers, and like the mythical Hydra's heads, the errors came back!

The most heinous act of the media was publishing the street address of
the site - thereby giving carte blanche to thieves, and yes, the site was
robbed that night. The media duly reported the theft, giving an even more
detailed address. When I contacted one television station (hot and cranky
after 2 days of digging in 110+ deg heat), they claimed the public had a
right to know the location. Aaargh!

We just have to do the best we can to "spin doctor" reports like these.
Thanks to Paul Willis for his comments regarding the Reuter's report from
Australia. I talked to hundreds of people while I was at the mammoth site
and hope I did my share of "repairing the damage". 

Debra Boaz
Avocationist
Southwest Paleontological Society
Mesa Southwest Museum
Mesa, AZ, USA