Matt Welch has a nice little rant about the disgusting practice of journalists letting their subjects edit their own stories. Fair enough.
But something that I’ve never understood is most journalists’ unwillingness to even allow their subjects to review and comment on the stories prior to publication. If they would do this, there would be many fewer boneheaded articles being written (particularly on matters scientific, but also matters simply factual) by journalists who don’t know what they’re talking about. I’m not saying that they should have to make changes, or accept editing–just that they should be willing to accept suggestions and use their own judgment as to whether or not to make the changes.
If I were writing an article, I would certainly want to get as much input as possible before finalizing it and avoid making myself look like a fool. I don’t understand why journalists don’t have that attitude. Is it something in the water in J School?
This problem extends, by the way, to movie directors. I see many stupid, incredible scientific blunders in many movies that are simply pointless. They don’t make for a better story, they don’t advance the plot, the movie would be dramatically just as good if they get the science right instead of wrong. And it wouldn’t make people like me think that they’re fools.
And it’s not even a matter of not having the expertise available–I’ve seen really stupid films made, supposedly with consulting by NASA. One suspects that they listen to the advice, shrug their shoulders, and then do it the way they want anyway. They’re, after all, the artists–what do those science geeks know?
Unfortunately, there probably aren’t enough people (like me) who care for the market to work and punish them sufficiently to get them to change. But the problem is, even if most people don’t mind (or notice) that things don’t make sense, it simply continues to reinforce scientific ignorance and innumeracy on the part of the populace.