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Re: News media, Bolivian Tracks & Eggs



Tony Thulborn wrote:

> I've been watching the story unfold in all-too-familiar fashion:  a superb
> scientific story being mangled by the media.  Scant regard for facts and
> figures, but plenty of journalistic imagination, invention,
> guesswork...along with possibilities, qualified estimates and
> half-understood comments converted to "facts".  And, you can bet, that
> somewhere in there you'll find that good old verbal filler - "Scientists
> believe...".  It's a miracle that ANY science ever gets to the public in
> undistorted form.

It's a miracle that _anything_ ever gets to the public in undistorted form, 
because
reporters do the same thing with any sort of technical story.  Pick any story 
with
technical details from the last ten years, say an airline crash.  Then go talk 
to
somebody who knows the subject and the specific incident involved, and you're
pretty certain to find that the media botched at least one important aspect of 
the
story.

Then when you add the problems of language translation on top of that . . .


> So, frankly, I find it amazing that Reuters should have issued a correction:
>
> >In August 12 LA PAZ, Bolivia, story headlined ``Two dinosaur eggs
> >  believed discovered in Bolivia'' please read in 8th paragraph...Some of
> >  the trails of footprints continued for 1,100 feet (350 meters)... instead
> >  of ... Some of the tracks   indicate beasts measuring up to 1,100 feet
> >  (350 meters) long (clarifying that the trail of tracks, not the dinosaurs
> >  themselves, measured 1,100 feet (350 meters).
>
> Is this the first-ever correction of a dinosaur-related press release?  Will
> it be as widely syndicated, and as prominently featured, as the original
> (incorrect) story?

Don't think so; I watch the wires regularly for dino-related stories, and I've 
seen
corrections like that before.  Whether or not it gets featured in any given
newspaper depends largely on whether the original story was run yet or not.  If 
the
original story was already run, then no, no correction is likely.  But science 
and
tech pieces very often get used as filler, being published as much as a week 
after
they went over the wire.  In that case, the editor might well use the second,
corrected version.

-- Jon W.