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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Intelligent design controversy: Another reason to pay little attention to legacy mainstream media coverage

A journalist friend laments the demise of the foreign correspondent, resulting in increasingly awful news coverage of countries one does not live in:
Previously, you could not claim to be a serious "national" or big-city daily unless you had at least a handful of permanently-posted foreign correspondents, in as many as possible of the world's major capitals. The advantage these guys had, over tourists, was that they could learn something about the place they'd been sent to. It takes at least two years for a foreign correspondent, even if he knows the local language, to get the hang of what is going on around him in any given country.

Today, almost all foreign coverage is supplied by ambulance-chasers who are flown in to cover some sensational event in a "trouble spot," & then flown out as quickly as possible. (Every day he is on the road means extra expenses for his media organization.) He is on-site typically for five or less days, not five or more years. What he knows about where he is going depends entirely on what was written in the Lonely Planet guide, & whether he achieved an Internet hook-up while en route. He is looking chiefly for "visuals" & "human interest," & he will invariably need help even to give instructions to a taxi driver.
So that is the person who, armed with quick factoids from the Darwin lobby, is assuring us all that the creationism menace looms worldwide and only enforcing Darwinism/materialism will save us.

As I said before,
There are a few honourable exceptions, but much as it pains me, as a journalist, to say it, I do not have a good feeling about the ability of most legacy media organizations to cover the growing [intelligent design controversy] story, as it develops in different cultures. It took me three years to clearly understand what the controversy is about. Sure, many people in the media are way smarter than me, but they are not going to get there just by listening to cranks, conspirazoids, hysterics, ward heelers, witch hunters, flacks, and lobbyists. My book, By Design or by Chance?, cites something like 77 other books (according to some unhappy person whose job it was to count). I wouldn't have put two and one half years into doing all that research and boiling it down into an easy read if the answers were obvious and easily found in an afternoon.

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