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Media Aviation Reports - Why So Inaccurate?  
User currently offlineReggaebird From Jamaica, joined Nov 1999, 1176 posts, RR: 0
Posted (7 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 1803 times:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/ma...07/08/03/et-a380-vs-dreamliner.xml

I have marveled for years at how inaccurate the mainstream media report of aviation matters can be. However, when I read the article above I wondered if the inaccuracies could be deliberate, as opposed, to accidental. In particular, I draw your attention to the sales figures for the manufacturers. One set of figures is almost up-to-date while the other set is grossly outdated. Could the fact-checkers be so incredibly mistaken?

If so, maybe media outlets should outsource their fact-checking to Airliners.net to get the most current information. Hey, that could be a great new revenue source for the best aviation web site on the net!

Reggaebird

P.S.: If you guys start making money on my idea, please send me a $50 check.  Smile

13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineArrow From Canada, joined Jun 2002, 2676 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (7 years 2 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 1787 times:

Here we go again.

Fact-checking is a luxury for magazines. Daily newspapers rely on their reporters to get it right the first time and the competent ones do. In this case, I would bet that they went with the best info they had from the sources they were quoting. That might be incompetence and laziness on the part of the reporter, but it's equally likely they got stonewalled by someone who just didn't feel like pointing them to the right data, or otherwise wanted to be uncooperative. I can tell you from personal experience that there are lots of folks who bitch about the quality and accuracy of what they read, and very few who will help you out when you are looking for credible info.

Some of the mistakes the mainstream media makes when writing about ALL sectors of life -- not just aviation -- are serious and should be challenged and corrected. Most of them, however are small enough to be totally irrelevant to the reading public they are aimed at. Most of the media-bashing threads on A.net focus on the latter, raging at the incompetent clod who can't tell the difference between a 737-200 and a 737-600.

Flame away.

[Edited 2007-08-03 21:44:56]


Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
User currently offlineReggaebird From Jamaica, joined Nov 1999, 1176 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 1739 times:

Quoting Arrow (Reply 1):
Here we go again.

Fact-checking is a luxury for magazines. Daily newspapers rely on their reporters to get it right the first time and the competent ones do. In this case, I would bet that they went with the best info they had from the sources they were quoting. That might be incompetence and laziness on the part of the reporter, but it's equally likely they got stonewalled by someone who just didn't feel like pointing them to the right data, or otherwise wanted to be uncooperative. I can tell you from personal experience that there are lots of folks who bitch about the quality and accuracy of what they read, and very few who will help you out when you are looking for credible info.

Some of the mistakes the mainstream media makes when writing about ALL sectors of life -- not just aviation -- are serious and should be challenged and corrected. Most of them, however are small enough to be totally irrelevant to the reading public they are aimed at. Most of the media-bashing threads on A.net focus on the latter, raging at the incompetent clod who can't tell the difference between a 737-200 and a 737-600.

Flame away.

I not sure how to take your response. Are you criticizing me for asking the question, for bringing up something that has been discussed before or for questioning what the media does?

My point was simply that, in this case, the results of the research for the article was very accurate for one manufacturer and grossly outdated for the other. I am questioning whether the article is accidentally wrong or if it is deliberately wrong. In other words, could media outlets have a vested interest in presenting inaccurate information?


User currently offlinePiedmontINT From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 376 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 1704 times:

Quoting Reggaebird (Reply 2):
I am questioning whether the article is accidentally wrong or if it is deliberately wrong.

I also have wondered the same thing: ive always wondered if some nit-wit who works for (insert news outlet here) thinks he is being a hero by deliberately changing facts about aviation stories in the name of "security" just so the public doesnt know too much.

I may be totally off base and probably am, but it also wouldnt surprise me in the least in today's paranoid society where aviation is so heavily scrutinized and where if you know anything about anything in the aviation field you must be a terrorist...

[Edited 2007-08-05 00:22:51]

User currently offlineKaitak From Ireland, joined Aug 1999, 12518 posts, RR: 35
Reply 4, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 1692 times:

Bear in mind that sometimes it's the editor, who is under pressure to maximise sales, not to produce a literary masterpiece. The journalist may have produced a good, accurate report, but the editor says, "oi, where's the grab in this?" and will edit it suitably, to grab attention.

A few days ago, a front page article appeared in our local paper here in Jersey, the "Jersey Evening Post"; the article concerned a very minor malfunction to a British Airways 737-500, flying from LGW to JER; the aircraft suffered a flap malfunction and because of the length of the runway here (about 5500'), the captain wisely decided to return to LGW, which he did and landed safely. OK, it was probably a bit unnerving for pax, but God, the fuss the JEP made of it ... "near death experience", "oh my God we're going to die" (one woman is actually reported to have said) ... I mean, really, because a flap problem. (She really did get into a flap!!)

Anyway, my theory is that if you had two newspapers side by side and one said "everything's ok today" and the other "doom, death, disaster", you will always buy the latter; we want to know - even here in A.net about the 0.005% of flights that didn't go 100% according to plan, rather than the vast majority which do. Same in the general population - and of course, moreso, because most of them wouldn't have the knowledge that we would have; and a paper is going to sell a lot more (taking the above case as an example) by saying it is a "life and death situation", rather than what it actually is: pretty much a non-event; doubtful the crew even broke a sweat, but the JEP isn't going to make money on a headline that says, "minor flap problem, nothing to worry about".


User currently offlineGbfra From Germany, joined Sep 2006, 448 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 1681 times:

Quoting Kaitak (Reply 4):
Bear in mind that sometimes it's the editor, who is under pressure to maximise sales, not to produce a literary masterpiece. The journalist may have produced a good, accurate report, but the editor says, "oi, where's the grab in this?" and will edit it suitably, to grab attention.

I am an editor and I can't see how a paper might try to maximise sales by deliberately manipulating the number of orders by an aircraft manufacturer. This idea seems completely absurd to me.

Quoting Arrow (Reply 1):
In this case, I would bet that they went with the best info they had from the sources they were quoting. That might be incompetence and laziness on the part of the reporter, but it's equally likely they got stonewalled by someone who just didn't feel like pointing them to the right data, or otherwise wanted to be uncooperative.

If a reporter wants to find out the number of orders for a new aircraft he can simply read the homepages of the manufacturers and talk to their press departments. He does not have to rely on sources who could stonewall him. This is public information.

Quoting Reggaebird (Thread starter):
However, when I read the article above I wondered if the inaccuracies could be deliberate, as opposed, to accidental.

Again, what could be the sense of deliberately publishing false figures which can easily be identified as false?

[Edited 2007-08-05 01:07:47]


The fundamental things apply as time goes by
User currently offlineKaitak From Ireland, joined Aug 1999, 12518 posts, RR: 35
Reply 6, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 1664 times:

Quoting Gbfra (Reply 5):
I am an editor and I can't see how a paper might try to maximise sales by deliberately manipulating the number of orders by an aircraft manufacturer. This idea seems completely absurd to me.

About numbers, possibly not, but I wasn't talking about that; I was talking about air safety issues and how newspapers can "exaggerate" a perfectly routine issue and make it into something much bigger, for the sake of sales.


User currently offlineBohica From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2715 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks 6 days ago) and read 1650 times:

Quoting Reggaebird (Thread starter):
Media Aviation Reports - Why So Inaccurate?

So us a-nutters have something to bitch about.  Smile


User currently offlineApodino From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 4287 posts, RR: 6
Reply 8, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 1640 times:

I used to have respect for Bill O'Reilly. However the whole JetBlue and DailyKos thing caused me to lose respect for him. Facts are, JetBlue never sponsored the convention, they issued a few complimentary tickets to promote the Chicago service. The new JetBlue CEO even sent a letter explaining this, which O'Reilly mentioned on the air, but didn't read. O'Reilly then spun the truth (Ironically in the No Spin Zone) claiming that they backed away from sponsoring the event because he exposed them on the air and that angry viewers wrote them in protest.

That is the type of reporting I can't stand, and people spin it all the time, particularly in aviation.


User currently offlineDCA-ROCguy From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 4507 posts, RR: 34
Reply 9, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 1613 times:

Civil aviation is a complicated subject, most reporters aren't experts in it, and (especially at newspapers) they're on tight deadlines. One problem is that it's a subject that doesn't seem to get a beat reporter at many publications, so no one on staff becomes an expert. I think these factors explain the vast majority of errors.

Jim

[Edited 2007-08-05 06:13:18]


Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)
User currently offlineGoldorak From France, joined Sep 2006, 1849 posts, RR: 4
Reply 10, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 1585 times:

It's not only aviation stuff which is poorly reported by the press and especially TV. It's all topics !! When you know the subject they're talking about, you just realize what they say is bullshit. So when you don't know anything about the subject they're treating, I don't trust them either. Generally speaking, in my opinion, the written press is much better than TV

User currently offlineGbfra From Germany, joined Sep 2006, 448 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 1576 times:

Quoting DCA-ROCguy (Reply 9):
Civil aviation is a complicated subject, most reporters aren't experts in it, and (especially at newspapers) they're on tight deadlines. One problem is that it's a subject that doesn't seem to get a beat reporter at many publications, so no one on staff becomes an expert. I think these factors explain the vast majority of errors.

Excellent summary.

An additional problem is that a real expert should have good knowledge about the technical/engineering aspects and the business aspects of civil aviation as well. People with such an overall knowledge are hard to find in journalism.
Many journalists who are writing for specialised media are experts on aviation technics but they usually do not care very much about the business side. With journalists in the business press it is usually the other way round.



The fundamental things apply as time goes by
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6824 posts, RR: 77
Reply 12, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 1560 times:

Quoting Reggaebird (Thread starter):
I have marveled for years at how inaccurate the mainstream media report of aviation matters can be.

And how many quality papers, e.g. European, or to be more precise, German ones, have you read during that time? Or what about German TV news? Or do you refer to certain mainstream media in a certain country or region?

Quoting Reggaebird (Thread starter):
If so, maybe media outlets should outsource their fact-checking to Airliners.net to get the most current information. Hey, that could be a great new revenue source for the best aviation web site on the net!

Yeah, they could probably sell hundreds of thousands of additional copies full of wannabe-expert armchair-CEO talk which can be found here frequently...  Yeah sure

Quality papers in Germany for example ask aviation journalists to write and deliver stories - which is the way to go.

Quoting Reggaebird (Reply 2):
In other words, could media outlets have a vested interest in presenting inaccurate information?

Certain companies could always have any interest in anything being inaccurate - in any business.

Quoting Kaitak (Reply 4):
Bear in mind that sometimes it's the editor, who is under pressure to maximise sales, not to produce a literary masterpiece. The journalist may have produced a good, accurate report, but the editor says, "oi, where's the grab in this?" and will edit it suitably, to grab attention.

With any bad or factually wrong story, the reader could be lost to the competition. Selling copies is one thing, selling them permenently is another.


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineLGM1030 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 4 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (7 years 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 1519 times:

Most of the journalists I've come across strike me as decent people and most of the outright errors I've noticed over the years are the ones that I classify as "no big deal" - misidentifying an a/c type, misspelling a name, etc. Occasionally those sorts of errors DO matter but mostly they don't.

What really bugs me about aviation reporting, though, are the more serious - but more difficult to address - errors of judgment. These begin with questions like, "Is this a legitimate story at all?" (Take, for example, that most "emergency" landings are not emergencies in the sense that they are urgent, life-threatening events), but also include questions of who's a legitimate source on a given subject, what causality to create between events, etc.

I see these sorts of "errors" all the time and they are harder to address (which may be why they happen over and over and over). When I've called reporters on issues like these, they generally fall back - pretty quickly - to the defense of, "Well, that's your opinion, but I disagree."

And that's perhaps the ultimate issue of all about aviation reporting: do most reporters have a legitimate body of knowledge, experience and judgment to validate their opinion as to how to cover the industry? I think the answer, sadly, is "No" except in a relatively small number of cases. There are lots of good aviation reporters in the trades (though fewer than there used to be), a few in the general print media and almost none in broadcast.

Don't even ask about bloggers!


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