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Re: T-J Extinction event article (more media errors?)



Perhaps a first hand description of the "press" process might be enlightening
to non-professionals and perhaps, also, someone can offer suggestions for how
to improve it.

We do ocasional articles covering certain topics in depth. If we're invited to
an actual press conference, there is an opportunity to:
a) listen to what the actual scientist has to say and take notes
b) ask direct questions

Usually a press-release is given out at the press conference. Many reporters,
however, ONLY get the press release which is faxed, mailed or e-mailed. If one
wants to know where the ideas come from a really good place to start is the
press release. The press releases are usually written by a staff member at a
museum or magazine. One would think that they would be checked over in house
before being sent out.  Clearly, a great deal of material that gets questioned
originates in the press release which is often quoted in toto.

If it's an important enough article, we consult other sources, but then, we
don't always try to be the first publication in the world to announce the news.
Publications that have serious deadlines are often limited ONLY to the
information in a press release.

Astute readers may recall a recent discussion about "scientific similes."  The
original simile in question came directly from a museum press release, although
in publication it was modified to make it even less specific. Clearly this is a
matter of style, but the attribution for a simile that an individual reader
might disagree with is not necessarily to the reporter.

The other thing, of course, is that the average newspaper and magazine article
is directed to the (hopefully) educated layman and not to scientists, so the
level of detail is lower. Can't avoid that: space and time and reader
limitations.

ES


Michael de Sosa wrote:

> Or maybe, they don't realize the need for a scientific proofreader.  They
> did get the information from a scientist after all, and the reporter may be
> unaware that (s)he had misinterpreted it.
>
> I'm not making excuses, of course, just offering an alternative explanation
> besides tight-fistedness or deliberate misinformation by the press.
>
> Mike de Sosa
>
> Ken wrote:
> P.S.  Can't these news organizations afford to hire a real scientist to
> proofread for accuracy?  I'm beginning to wonder if they are just too cheap
> to hire someone to provide a little accuracy, or they just prefer it this
> way so that have an excuse to publish inaccurate hype.

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