Monday, February 6, 2012

mainstream media

I am not one of those people who rant and rave against the evils of mainstream media. However, I have not had very good experiences with newspaper articles written about stuff I've been involved with.

The issue hasn't been that the science was wrong, but that time and time again, the article reflects the view of whoever is "louder" or who has an axe to grind at the time. For example:

I was involved in a contentious long-term project that continued for years. The big polluter was an institution that had made a mess way back when you could dump anything you wanted legally, and they were in the middle of a long-term cleanup to the appropriate standards. The neighbors, most of which were dead-set against anything the big polluter did, had banded together to form a coalition to keep the big polluter honest and nag the regulators into keeping an extremely close eye on the proceedings, and they had succeeded.

Ten years into the project, a local politician seeking reelection inserted himself into the mix. He never did get his fact straight and he called up his connections with entirely false accusations. The story got picked up by a newspaper with a national following, and the big newspaper picked up his story essentially verbatim. His statements were so off-base that the neighborhood coalition and the regulatory agency independently got fed up and wrote letters to the editor defending the big polluter.

So much for getting other sides of the story... or checking your single source by looking up simple, publicly available information on the internet.

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