Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The death of journalism can be primarily blamed on journalists. Or should I say "journalists?" (Publicus Proventus)

Remember how terrifying the BP oil spill was in the first few days of Oilageddon? And how reporters were rushing to fall all over themselves describing the end of the world that would result from oil-covered pelicans dive-bombing the Gulf Coast? You sure do; we all do.

Remember how those same reporters (and government officials) also mentioned that most oils from spills evaporate and do so fairly quickly? You sure don't -- because nobody said anything about it. While the media went nuts over bogus oil-spill contingency plans that mentioned protecting the penguins and listed deceased professors as the primary contact, no reporter, no BP exec, no government official, no pansy-preening member of Congress, ever mentioned things like this report from 1994 that found that as much as 75% of crude oil spills evaporate in the first few days.

Even now, the media is focusing largely on claiming that the success of the clean-up is "more spin than science," a claim they can make only if they ignore the science, which I checked into when I myself was skeptical of the claims that the oil had evaporated. And I quickly found that paper, referencing the spill model equations that can tell how quickly oil might evaporate after a spill.

So where was that reporting when the Gulf spill occurred? Where were the media and government representatives noting that while this wasn't good, at all, that a large volume of the oil might actually simply evaporate and not require a massive, presidential ass-kicking response?

Or was there no interest in reporting facts when there were good storylines to develop -- even if the storylines weren't exactly real.

It just goes to show what happens when "news" is synonymous with "Facebook opinion polls and CNN reporters diving into water."

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