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Rant to journalists

I started out life as a journailst, so I have some sympathy for them. Doing really good journalism is very, very difficult. That is why it is so rare.

But between the Sagan medal, and the new book coming out, and some newsworthy science that I presented last month, I have been getting a spate of requests for interviews. Some have been great, others were... well...

So here are some helpful hints that I am sure no journalist will read, but which let me rant for a minute, to improve the odds that I will be a cooperative subject and that you might get a useful story.

1. Spell my name right... in the email asking for the interview, and of course in the story itself.

2. Presumably you are interviewing me because of my position. So get that position correct. I am a brother, not a priest. If I were a Father then maybe I would have written a book called "Father Astronomer" and maybe would I have an email address that starts with "fatherguy". But I didn't. Wonder why?

3. Do your homework. I have the world's easiest name to Google, so please at least read the Wikipedia article that someone posted about me... and then, ask me if the details there are correct. (Some of them are not. This is Wikipedia, remember?) Find out, before you ask, the things that anyone could find out without reading your article, so that you can write an article with things have not yet been found out.

4. Realize that I can Google you, too. And I will. If I find anything on your page that relates to UFOs, the interview is off. Period.

5. Before asking me about my book, or about any of the topics I cover in my book, read my book. You might even ask my publisher to send you a copy.

Journalists are targets for all kinds of abuse nowadays, often by people who don't want their doings exposed in the public press. Please, we need good journalists and good journalism. Don't enable the abusers by making yourself an easy target for mockery.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
klwilliams
Dec. 10th, 2014 09:37 pm (UTC)
You know about the Tolkien page online, that gave an incorrect summary of the story of The Lord of the Rings, and gave incorrect study questions? The idea was to mess people up who came to the site trying to get a paper to turn in without having to write one. When the first LotR movie came out, a journalist used that site to base an article about the books/movie on. Um. Oops.
beamjockey
Dec. 10th, 2014 11:54 pm (UTC)
I remember a discussion of that site on Making Light.
beamjockey
Dec. 10th, 2014 11:55 pm (UTC)
A number of your acquaintances have what it takes to repair defective Wikipedia articles. You have only to say the word.
beamjockey
Dec. 10th, 2014 11:59 pm (UTC)
This doesn't sound right:

On entry into the order, he was assigned as an astronomer to the Vatican Observatory...

No mention of your new job, either.
don_fitch
Dec. 21st, 2014 02:17 am (UTC)
I think I know what you meant, but... really, now... there are lots of UFOs -- "Unidentified Flying Objects" -- flitting about. Not only for people as decrepit as I've become, who can't tell if one of them is a red-tailed hawk or a Piper cub, but for people who are much more qualified. I think that, to be fair & scientific, you'd need to check out that Journalist's article on UFOs and consign it (& the Journalist, perhaps figuratively) to damnation only if there were an indication that "Space Aliens" are involved. Mind you, I've not yet seen a flying object that turned out to be Superman, though I keep hoping.
don_fitch
Jan. 1st, 2015 02:48 am (UTC)
I regret to have to say that I think your Attitude on point #4 is... unwise. (Actually, I think it's Wrong, but suppose that saying so would be rude,) There are, I'm convinced, a large number of Unidentified Flying Objects, and I, myself, have seen many that I could not, with any certitude, identify as to breed of bird, airplane, or floater in my eyeball. I think you ought to amend your observation to specify that you will lignore journalists who suggest that UFOs have anything to do with Alien/non-human entities. (One of the "Alien" UFOs I've seen turned out to be a Japanese airliner (I was near LAX at the time).)

brotherguy
Feb. 9th, 2015 03:50 am (UTC)
You make a nice point. Unidentified is of course the part of UFO that most folks forget.

My point was simply that I have found a strong correlation between journalists who list UFOs on their website as being a topic of interest to them, and journalists whom I would rather not deal with.

One can speculate at length on the reason for that correlation. I merely note it here.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )