At the helm of the mothership Echo, email onslaughts are the most time-wasting aspect of what should be an exciting job.
Press releases from various organisations and businesses all compete for the limited space within the front news pages of any publication. Some have legitimate news value; however, most fall into a category that is best described as ‘advertorial’.
They claim to be newsworthy articles and are usually written by someone who is all too aware that, if published, they just scored themselves a free plug and legitimised their product/service as ‘news’.
There are educational courses available that provide tuition for such disingenuous promotion, and the line between what is real news and advertising is becoming harder and harder to defend and delineate.
As a result of this, editors are human shit filters. Anything that lobs into the inbox must be treated with suspicion; they are brown papers bags filled with an unknown smelly substance.
Since this is a recent position, I am learning a lot about shit.
Depending on readership, all news – especially at a local level – should contain ‘soft and ‘hard’ elements. Exhibitions, festivals, accolades, milestones and the like provide the community with a sense of connection and achievement, however ‘hard’ news can result in a change of public opinion and perception.
Spanking the corporate shill
Hard news and the resulting public perception battles are often pushed by the loudest voices and the most money.
We are still being told that climate change science is incomplete and that it’s ok to build nuclear power plants. It’s like saying the earth is flat and it’s ok to eat paint.
Complex topics such as these are often given equal weight by journalists attempting to provide balance; however, when an overwhelming number of scientists say climate change is man made – and a few scientists on a corporate payroll say it’s not conclusive – the credibility of the argument suffers.
Other topics, including tobacco, acid rain, the ozone hole, glob- al warming, and DDT are all examined by authors Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway in a new book entitled Merchants of Doubt.
It explains how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists, with extensive political connections, ran effective campaigns to mis- lead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades.
The book claims to demonstrate how the ideology of free- market fundamentalism, aided by an all too-compliant media, has skewed public understanding and education.
‘The US scientific community has long led the world in re- search on public health, environmental science, and other issues affecting the quality of life,’ say the authors, and at the same time they say, ‘a small yet potent subset of this community leads the world in vehement denial of the world’s most pressing issues of our era.’
A fascinating lecture is available on YouTube by author Naomi Oreskes and it describes, among other things, how credible scientists knew since the 1960s that climate change would result from human activity. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T4UF_Rmlio