October 26, 2005

Mountain, molehill, bah!

For News Writing, we are reading It Ain't Necessarily So: How Media Make and Unmake the Scientific Picture of Reality, by Murray, Schwartz, and Lichter. As a journalist, this book pisses me off(to be blunt) but it also has taught me a great deal of what to avoid when I enter my career.

BUT...it still annoys me.

In chapter 2 they talk about journalists making scientific statistics (on different subjects such a sperm counts an chemical ezplosions) into big, breaking news when really there is not much to worry about.

This is my response: Yes journalists may seem uneducated on the statistics and they may tend to over-react when putting the statistics into their articles. The public has every right to be upset over journalists making a big ordeal over something that may be inaccurate or only a minor problem. But either way journalists are going to be criticized- either for making the problem seem too big, or if they don't emphasize enough that there may be a problem.

So it's a catch-22. I don't think journalists will ever get the appropriate praise they need. I know how hard it is being a staff writer for a student produced paper at a small university- I can't even imagine what it's like to write for a national magazine or a large city's newspaper. We're only human, and there's only so much information we can cram into our brain before everything becomes muddled.

Maybe if the population spent one day in the life of a journalist, they'd understand, until then all we can do is hope for a little understanding...

(Note: I started writing this on Wednesday right after EL227, and I'm just now getting around to finishing it, the browser has been open on my computer for two days!)

Posted by StormyKnight at October 26, 2005 12:37 PM
Comments

Chris- I completely agree with you. People who aren't journalists and know little to nothing about the field feel perfectly comfortable complaining about something they've never experienced. They have no idea how much pressure there is. It's like complaining about the government...do we really know what's going on? Of course not! We have such a low, outside understanding of what's going on yet we feel comfortable bashing their decisions. I don't think it'll ever change!


Elyse- I'm glad I was able to open your eyes to a different view point. I do agree that *SOME* journalists can go overboard on the drama. I also think that we're a nation that thrives on drama. I mean, why do we read the tabloids? Why do we gossip? Drama, drama, drama. Granted, journalists have no right to go making a big ordeal out of things. But as I said- if they didn't make a big deal out of something that DID turn out to be a large problem, they'd be blamed for that also.

Like I said- catch 22.

Thanks for the comments guys. =)

Posted by: stormy at November 7, 2005 1:55 AM

I can empathize with you, Stormy. I, too, feel that the authors of IANS are more than a little unfair to journalists -- and unfortunately, a good majority of the public will probably never fully understand the kind of pressure that journalists must endure.

Posted by: ChrisU at October 31, 2005 11:29 AM

Wow, Stormy. I never really thought of it that way. I have always been on the opposite side of the spectrum and have even said that journalists DO try to make a mountain out of a molehill. Why else would someone try to make such a "ho-hum" story sound ravishing and interesting with tons of details and drama? I think there is a difference between making a story interesting and making the story dramatized.

Posted by: ElyseBranam at October 31, 2005 10:41 AM
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