Sensationalism

The lovely and talented Allison of AP’s Blog asked a very interesting question and I am going to make a new post out of it because it brings up some interesting points.

She asked:

“What is going on with those repairs in space? will they be able to fix them? what if they can’t? how will they get back?”

My reply was:

“Allison, don’t worry about the repairs in space. Those gap fillers are so inconsequential that I can’t even believe they are trying to fix them. They would be better off just leaving them hanging. The shuttle has always had things that come loose and it lands with missing tiles all the time, it is just that this time we have the cameras so we can see it all. I think that the only reason they are doing the repairs is to test the repair techniques and because the media has been so critical. The media is definitely the enemy of human spaceflight. Do not take what you hear on TV about the space program at face value, because a lot of it is bad information or just crap.”

She replied:

“I agree with you that the media is crap…..the only reason I asked was because they’ve really “sensationalized” the whole story…ie: going into worst case scenarios, etc..”

This brings up how screwed up the media in this country is. In terms of the space program, our own local newspaper is one of the worst, always gloom and doom about NASA and then they call themselves the “Space Coast Newspaper.” How dare they! The TV stations are no better. They are all looking for a sensational story and will twist information use worst case scenarios, and take many liberties to “make” their stories. It disgusts me. The space program is something to be proud of and the way they report, they want us to fail so they can be more famous and popular. It is not just the space program though. I noticed last year with all of the hurricanes that the reporters on the Weather Channel seemed actually disappointed when certain hurricanes did not cause as much distruction as predicted. They hung their heads almost in disappointment! Unreal! The guys on one radio show I listen to sometimes said that they were out at Jacksonville Beach one time when a hurricane was coming, and there was a TV crew there filming the hurricane coverage. The news anchor was standing in front of a sign on the beach and somone was crouched below him shaking the sign to make it look like the wind was blowing really hard. This is the kind of sensationalist crap we see every day, whether we know it or not.

Which brings me to this, which I posted as a comment on the very interesting Tom’s Astronomy Blog, on a post he wrote about the media stating that NASA had “grounded” the shuttle fleet:

Technically, according to NASA, the shuttle is grounded everytime it lands, as it is not like an aircraft that has an airworthiness certificate issued that is good for many flights. The airworthiness is determined separately for each fight, and all they have said is that we will not fly until the problem is fixed. It is the same effect as a grounding, but technically a little different. I call it “grounded” as well, as it is pretty much the same thing.

The media loves to take hold of a word or phrase and use it whether or not they know what it means. This is just one more example of the utter ridiculousity of it all.

Anyways, so whenever you hear something like “will a hacksaw repair determine the end of the space shuttle program?” (I actually heard something to that effect today), keep in mind that the media is made up of a bunch of people who want us to fail because it makes for better news.

Thank you for your continued support.

Oh, and everyone go visit Allison’s and Tom’s blogs. They are both very cool.

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  1. #1 by The Zombie Lama on August 2, 2005 - 9:33 pm

    You think the space program gets bad media, try being undead! All you ever see is “Shoot them in the head”, or “They want your braiiiiiiiins”.I agree, the media is out of control. Unfortunately, not just in this country, but around the world in general. The funny thing is, when a reporter does something wrong, you generally don’t hear much about it, and when you do, there are other reporters saying things like “We wish them well during this troubling time and out of respect for their privacy we will not be covering this issue.”What a bunch of vultures.Good blog!

  2. #2 by No-L on August 2, 2005 - 10:56 pm

    Hey Jen, How close to reality is this?

  3. #3 by Windigo on August 3, 2005 - 5:51 am

    I’ve been watching NASA TV for a few hours each day since the shuttle has been up. The astronauts are confident that everything is fine and they’ll be back home safely, but every time they do a press call the reporters seem to try to paint a doomsday scenario. They’re told that everything is going to be just fine, yet the news stories that come out later that day still have the doom and gloom feel to them. Makes you wonder about everything reported in the news.Reminds me of the Weather Channel lady that was being chased by a piece of metal scooting on the ground at about 1 mph last year, running for her life saying how life threatening and horrible the conditions were, and how the Weather Channel played that clip every 5 minutes for days afterwards. Buncha pansies.

  4. #4 by Jen on August 3, 2005 - 6:02 am

    No-L, I am not sure if that design has any basis in reality or not. The only thing I know is that they are working on something, and that they have been around to our facility to measure and chart to see if the facility can be reused for the next program or if they will need to build something new.

  5. #5 by GlitterGlamGirl05 on August 3, 2005 - 8:54 am

    Unreal – I work with the media everyday and it’s amazing how screwed up they are…Anyway I was just watching CNN while I was getting coffee this morning and the anchor woman asked “why is nasa talking to the astronaut if what he is doing is so difficult? shouldn’t they leave him alone?”I actually yelled at her (I hope she heard me!) “How stupid can you be? they are talking to him to walk thim through the repairs.”DUH!

  6. #6 by patrice on August 3, 2005 - 9:19 am

    the media is definitely all about whatever gets the ratings. if I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d say that it’s actually the fault of the sponsors and of materialism in general – the way people in the newspapers or TV news get more money is if they can charge more for ads. they charge more for ads if they have more “eyeballs”. they get more “eyeballs” if they have the most compelling, ie the most sensational, news. of course there’s always the component of wanting to be famous, and our society seems to love drama in any form. mix em all together and you get people running from tiny shrapnel while talking about the demise of the space shuttle program while on the beach next to a sign that’s being rattled about by a lackey.that’s if I were a conspiracy theorist.

  7. #7 by Eddie on August 3, 2005 - 12:13 pm

    3 dogs? Why no kids?

  8. #8 by allison on August 3, 2005 - 12:21 pm

    Hey Jen! thanks for your kind words. Yeah it makes you feel a little uneasy when they start going into scenarios on how they will get back if they can’t fix the damages. Then they said the the President called the crew and wished them the best etc…I guess there’s no more missing girls to talk about.

  9. #9 by Shananigans on August 3, 2005 - 2:20 pm

    The mainstream media are whores to the consumerist machine. The most important thing I learned in my coursework as a communications major is to be critical of everything a media source tells you, investigate who/what is driving the message, and do your damn homework! Information needs to be collected from more than one source and considered against other possible imposing factors. It is a sad, sad thing that we have trained society to crave sensationalism and immediate gratification, but not to think critically and care about real issues.**end rantListen to NPR!

  10. #10 by Katy on August 3, 2005 - 3:08 pm

    I have just about all but quit watching the news. I can not stand it. Thanks for the clear , concise information. Smart and good looking? You are the shiznit!;)

  11. #11 by Applewhite on August 3, 2005 - 11:31 pm

    That was an incredible post. I feel informed now.

  12. #12 by Basketball Is Life on August 5, 2005 - 3:37 am

    really thoughful writing. thanks.my only thing to add to the big picture of all of this is why are we wasting soo much time on this flight? it’s almost too political to watch. success after success story nasa brings us won’t cover up the fact that their missions are not keeping up with the imagination of the world and in general, are considered failures among people who want a progressive system. very much a nutshell comment, but i like your posts.

  13. #13 by How Nasa Learned To Fly In on May 30, 2006 - 1:30 pm

    How Nasa Learned To Fly In

    8, 2003 Covey said “what I have learned of the process that maybe allowed the situation to develop whereA History of NASAs Pioneerin…

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