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Re: God bless the media

From: "James Farlow" <farlow@ipfw.edu>
Reply-To: farlow@ipfw.edu
To: <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Subject: God bless the media
Date: Fri, 12 Jul 2002 07:54:31 -0500

Gotta add my little bit to the current thread.  I have had a  lot of
experience dealing with the news media.  I always explain my research as
carefully as I can, try to use homey analogies, and try NOT to snow
print reporters or TV blow-dries with jargon.  I tell the story so that
it cannot possibly be misunderstood or misinterpreted, being especially
careful in explaining potentially confusing parts of the story, and then
wait to see in what novel way that I never even thought of the media
person will get it wrong.

Sometimes this happens because the writer of the story doesn't know as
much as s/he thinks s/he does.

It happened again earlier this month.  For the last 6 years I have been
coordinating study of fossils from a late Miocene-early Pliocene
sinkhole deposit in northern Indiana.  It is a very rich fossil
assemblage, filled with plant fossils, mollusc internal molds, and a
host of large and small vertebrates, from frogs and rodents to camels
and rhinos.

The biggest newspaper in the state did a story on our work that was
published July 7th.  I spent an afternoon with the reporter, showing him
the fossils and explaining their significance.  I felt pretty good about
the way the interview went, and when I saw the story, it was pretty
good.  The headline, however, read:

Sinkhole Exposes a Path to State's Paleolithic Past


Why else do you think one of the "facts" it is considered by the general public is that Tyrannosaurids were half-blind, snail-slow, dumb, clumsly and dull obgilate scavengers anyway? He who masters the media controls public paleo-opinion.

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