Sponsor Message:
Civil Aviation Forum
My Starred Topics | Profile | New Topic | Forum Index | Help | Search 
Journalists And Aviation - Do They Know Anything?  
User currently offlineDreadnought From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 8870 posts, RR: 24
Posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 4812 times:

In my own business, I've dealt with journalists and they have generally proven to be clueless about anything. In any story you read (and I'm talking about proper reporters from AP, BBC etc, not blogs), you can count on at least 20% of the facts being wrong, and if there is anything technical, that number goes up fast.

Today I read a good one about the volcano situation in Europe.

http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/culture/...airspace.html?cid=8685108&rss=true

Quote:
A volcano's smoke and ash pose a threat to aircraft because particles as sharp as a knife blade ranging in size from 0.001 millimetres to 2 millimetres can get sucked into their engines, melt in the heat, and then solidify again, causing the engine to shut down.

That happened to a KLM flight near Alaska in 1989, when a jumbo jet lost all power and dropped from 7,500m to 3,600m before pilots could restart the engines and land the plane.

The debris can also hinder visibility. In the 1980s a British Airways 747 flew into a volcanic ash cloud and the grit sandblasted the windscreen so thoroughly that the pilot had to stand and look out of a side window to land safely.

Now that's a fantastic picture - the captain sticking his head outside the cockpit window at something like 150+ MPH. Except that I figure it's physically impossible.

I expect that he's talking about this famous incident. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Airways_Flight_9 The landing was done on instruments due to the damaged windscreen, but with everyone's heads well inside the aircraft.

Anyone want to share where reporters get their aviation facts completely wrong?


Veni Vidi Castratavi Illegitimos
39 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinebcoz From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 372 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 4755 times:

I have a journalism degree.... used to be a reporter.... now I work in content production/media relations on the other side of the fence.

In general, you're right. But, it's not just aviation. With the way the industry has downsized (and the advent of the 24-hour news cycle), most reporters (except in the case of niche publications/websites/broadcast outlets) have to be generalists. It's unfortunate, too.... because I'd love to be an aviation reporter. The jobs just aren't there.

bcoz


User currently offlineA346Dude From Canada, joined Nov 2004, 1289 posts, RR: 7
Reply 2, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 4755 times:

In my view, it's not so much that they get the facts wrong (though they often do), so much as they twist the truth to make something sound far worse to the non-expert than it really is; in many cases the literal wording is technically accurate. Case in point: in your example, it does not say the pilot stuck his head out the side window, but the wording makes it seem that way and most laymen would interpret it as such.


You know the gear is up and locked when it takes full throttle to taxi to the terminal.
User currently offlineLHR380 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 4723 times:

Quoting Dreadnought (Thread starter):
The debris can also hinder visibility. In the 1980s a British Airways 747 flew into a volcanic ash cloud and the grit sandblasted the windscreen so thoroughly that the pilot had to stand and look out of a side window to land safely.

That needs to be worded a little differently.

The co pilot of the flight had to stand and look out of a small small square of clear window on one of the side windows to see the runway as the windows had all been sandblasted. Not his head out of the window.


User currently offlineFly2HMO From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 4694 times:

The thing that really ticks me off is sensationalism, there's pretty much no such thing as objective reporting anymore. The more scandalous a new story, the more money they (the news outlets) make of course.

I remember the Jetblue incident at LAX with the twisted gear, EVERY single news chopper ran over to the area like bees to honey. I knew from the get-go it would a non-event, but yet they bring all these so called "experts" to give their opinions on TV and they start saying things so idiotic it sounds like if the apocalypse was around the corner. And what happened? Two blown tires and a few sparks and a bunch of live happy pax. Whoop de doo.  


User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 25700 posts, RR: 22
Reply 5, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 4679 times:

Quoting Dreadnought (Thread starter):
Now that's a fantastic picture - the captain sticking his head outside the cockpit window

Where does the news report say that he had to stick his head out the window? It says he had to "look out" of the window.


User currently offlineDreadnought From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 8870 posts, RR: 24
Reply 6, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 4679 times:

Quoting A346Dude (Reply 2):
In my view, it's not so much that they get the facts wrong (though they often do), so much as they twist the truth to make something sound far worse to the non-expert than it really is;

That might be true in certain cases, especially when the issue is political. But I used to run a company and we would have to do press releases. If the reporter were lazy, he could just repeat the press release verbatim and at least get it right, but often they feel the need to paraphrase and reword, and in the process get it completely wrong. I got the feeling like they saw it as a challenge - read the press release once, and then without ever referring to it again, rewrite the article from memory and send it.



Veni Vidi Castratavi Illegitimos
User currently offlineLHR380 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 7, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 4671 times:

Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 4):
I knew from the get-go it would a non-event

You were 100% sure nothing would go wrong were you?


User currently offlineblueflyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 4090 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 4671 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

While I generally agree that downsizing in journalism has affected the quality of the reporting in general (there are notable exceptions, The Economist, FT, come to mind), you've got to be careful about the examples you pick.

Looking out a side windows does not mean you're actually outside, maybe journalism isn't the only skill where quality is going downhill fast.



I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineFly2HMO From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 4625 times:

Quoting LHR380 (Reply 7):
You were 100% sure nothing would go wrong were you?

Yes. So were almost all of my other pilot friends who were with me at the time.

Rarely does a landing gear failure result in apocalyptic death, destruction and human guts smeared all over the runway... Heck I can't think of a single seriously disastrous accident due to that reason alone off the top of my head.


User currently offlineaviateur From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 1357 posts, RR: 11
Reply 10, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 4346 times:

Quoting blueflyer (Reply 8):
While I generally agree that downsizing in journalism has affected the quality of the reporting in general (there are notable exceptions, The Economist, FT, come to mind), you've got to be careful about the examples you pick.

Generally you're right, but not always. The Economist has messed up its share of airline/aviation stories as well.

Case in point, the following is from the September 17th, 2009 issue, in a feature titled "Breathing More Easily," about the air quality on planes...

http://www.economist.com/sciencetech...displaystory.cfm?story_id=14446718

"Typically an airline will strike a balance by using a 50:50 mixture of fresh and recirculated cabin air," it says. "Although pilots can reduce the amount of fresh air to save fuel. Some are thought to cut it back to only 20%."

My mouth dropped open when I read this.

To start with, pilots cannot tinker with a plane's air conditioning systems to modify the ratio of fresh to recirculated air. This ratio is predetermined by the manufacturer. It is neither arbitrary nor adjustable from the cockpit.

And I love that sentence, "Some are thought to cut it back to only 20%," with its oily overtones of conspiracy -- an insinuation that is not only a blemish on the magazine's standards, but is offensive to those of us who fly planes for a living.

In reality, here's how it works:

On modern aircraft, the rate and volume of airflow is pretty much automatic. On the Boeings that I fly, we have direct and accurate control over temperature, but only indirect control over flow. If you asked me to please "cut it back to 20 percent," I would politely inform you that this is impossible. The switches are set to automatic mode prior to flight, and the packs more or less take care of themselves. So long as both engines are turning and everything is operating normally, the flow is perfectly adequate. Only when there's a malfunction (an overheat, a recirculation fan failure, or some other glitch in the plumbing) are the settings changed.


In 2002, in a discussion of "the realities of air safety," The Economist quoted a Mr. Jackson of “Jane's All the World's Aircraft” who stated: "No large airliner has ever made an emergency landing on water."

Although the definitions of "large" or "landing" are contestable, this was totally untrue, even at the time (well prior to Sully-Upon-Hudson).

The magazine continued, "So the life jackets, with their little whistles and lights that come on when in contact with water, have little purpose other than to make passengers feel better." The various accouterments of the onboard floatation devices are indeed a bit excessive (the larger rafts contain everything from signal mirrors to, yes, fishing line and hooks), but more than once those vests and rafts were put to good use by people who needed them.


Patrick Smith



Patrick Smith is an airline pilot, air travel columnist and author
User currently offlineMacsog6 From Singapore, joined Jan 2010, 535 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 4307 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Like many products, you have to be careful about what you buy, and in this case, read. I seldom believe anything I read in mass market publications about the aviation industry and rely on Aviation Week and Space Technology and Flight for accurate reporting.

But, IMHO, it is not confined to aviation. Most of what I read I suspect is "doctored" to sell more of the publication. I agree that the likes of the WSJ, FT and the Economist are better than most other rags, but if you want aviation news, go to the professional aviation people.



Sixty Plus Years of Flying! "I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things." - Saint Ex
User currently onlineByrdluvs747 From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 2381 posts, RR: 1
Reply 12, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 4290 times:

Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 9):
Yes. So were almost all of my other pilot friends who were with me at the time.
Quoting Fly2HMO (Reply 9):
Rarely does a landing gear failure result in apocalyptic death...

You said you were 100% sure then use the word rarely, which doesn't mean 100%. In truth, neither you nor any pilot can say that such situations will always end with the same result. Yes, the vast majority will probably end safely, but you can never say that all will.



The 747: The hands who designed it were guided by god.
User currently offlineFly2HMO From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 4267 times:

Quoting Byrdluvs747 (Reply 12):

You said you were 100% sure then use the word rarely, which doesn't mean 100%.

The only reason I said rarely was in case somebody brought up a major accident involving a gear malfunction.

Quoting Byrdluvs747 (Reply 12):
Yes, the vast majority will probably end safely, but you can never say that all will.

Considering the calmness/otherwise controlled situation at the time, I was 100% sure it would end safely in that particular case.

[Edited 2010-04-16 19:50:11]

User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7607 posts, RR: 32
Reply 14, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 4258 times:

There is this thing we used to call "The Journalistic Record" back when I was in the business.

Basically, if something is printed in the media, it is a fact to any reporter or researcher in the future.

Does not matter if it is later retracted, or proven completely false.

Once it is 'in print' is it golden for the future. The search capabilities of the web make this even more prelevant.

Quoting Dreadnought (Thread starter):
The landing was done on instruments due to the damaged windscreen, but with everyone's heads well inside the aircraft.

The ILS glide path was inoperable and even so, the airport does not have a Cat III. They had to fly a localizer approach and step down the altitude based on DME readings.

I hope someone was looking outside the cockpit by the time they got to minimums.

While a lot of that incident shows the very best of pilots, much is too technical for the reporters or general public to understand the skill and luck involved. But a pilot having to stand and look outside a side window - that is something which anyone realizes is an extreme measure.


User currently offlinebrilondon From Canada, joined Aug 2005, 4318 posts, RR: 1
Reply 15, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 4230 times:

Quoting Dreadnought (Thread starter):
and look out of a side window to land safely.

In defense of the reporter who wrote this article. The looking out the side window is quite possible since he could not even look out the front. He may have even stood up. I don't know I was not there. You should reread what is written, nowhere does the article does the article mention he stuck his head out of the window. The only journalists I find are dumb are the ones on TV, especially the dumbest ones on CNN.



Rush for ever; Yankees all the way!!
User currently offlinespacecadet From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 3630 posts, RR: 12
Reply 16, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 4163 times:

Quoting Dreadnought (Thread starter):
The debris can also hinder visibility. In the 1980s a British Airways 747 flew into a volcanic ash cloud and the grit sandblasted the windscreen so thoroughly that the pilot had to stand and look out of a side window to land safely.

Now that's a fantastic picture - the captain sticking his head outside the cockpit window at something like 150+ MPH. Except that I figure it's physically impossible.

You're looking for something that is not there. Read the paragraph again. All it says is he had to look out of a side window, it does not say he was sticking his head outside.

Whether he actually stood to do it I can't remember, but I have seen interviews with the crew of this flight and they did, in fact, have to crane their heads and look out a tiny slit in one of the side windows to see.

At worst, the only fact this article might have gotten wrong is the standing. But one of them very well may have done that, I just don't remember that part.



I'm tired of being a wanna-be league bowler. I wanna be a league bowler!
User currently offlinesilentbob From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 2128 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 4150 times:

Quoting bcoz (Reply 1):
In general, you're right. But, it's not just aviation. With the way the industry has downsized (and the advent of the 24-hour news cycle), most reporters (except in the case of niche publications/websites/broadcast outlets) have to be generalists. It's unfortunate, too.... because I'd love to be an aviation reporter. The jobs just aren't there.

The need to be first is much more urgent than the need to be correct and that is the bigger problem to me.


User currently offlineSierraAir From United States of America, joined May 1999, 203 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 4103 times:

Speaking as someone in the journalism industry, yes...stories are sometimes incorrect.

But you have to remember, most journalists nowdays, both television and print, don't have one area they specialize in anymore. They're covering an airplane crash one day, a court case the next, and a teacher strike next week.

I don't endorse it but with downsizing in the journalism industry, I can force myself to understand it.

Brian


User currently offlinemurchmo From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 167 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 3979 times:

The Seattle Times had this headline the other day:

"4 Seattle to Europe flights Fall Victim to Icelands Volcanic Ash"

Perfect example of how they manipulate words to get people to read. I understand it's a business and this one isn't so bad. But we have all read those articles. The writer isn't always to blame either, sometimes the editors can change just a word or two that can be very impactful without the author knowing.



to strive to seek to find and not to yield
User currently offlinecobra27 From Slovenia, joined May 2001, 1021 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 3895 times:

At first it seems strange, when you read such info, how can they publish this crap. I have read thousands of articles like this,
like plus mig-31 can easily do mach 3 at sea level. The other time one regional CRJ pilot complained about in magazine how hard different time zones affect their sleep
One time even one Canadair pilot told me that for go around in A320 you just gave to push one button and thats it.
Aftera time you get used to it, you can even get surprised if something they publish is actually true


User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 25700 posts, RR: 22
Reply 21, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 3575 times:

Quoting murchmo (Reply 19):
The Seattle Times had this headline the other day:

"4 Seattle to Europe flights Fall Victim to Icelands Volcanic Ash"

Perfect example of how they manipulate words to get people to read.

I don't see the problem with that headline. Isn't that roughly the number of flights that would be affected by the closure of European airspace?


User currently offlinelevent From France, joined Sep 2004, 1718 posts, RR: 5
Reply 22, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 3566 times:

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 21):
Quoting murchmo (Reply 19):
The Seattle Times had this headline the other day:

"4 Seattle to Europe flights Fall Victim to Icelands Volcanic Ash"

Perfect example of how they manipulate words to get people to read.

I don't see the problem with that headline. Isn't that roughly the number of flights that would be affected by the closure of European airspace?

I think murchmo is referring to the fact that this headline is so sensationalist. It sounds as if the planes crashed or something. I don't like this style either, but that's indeed how they get readers' attention.

As an aviation writer myself, I very much hate to read articles in which the facts are not correct. If you don't know the facts, don't pretend you do. If you want or need to write the article anyway, get the facts right first. Sounds simple enough, no?


User currently offlineaviateur From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 1357 posts, RR: 11
Reply 23, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 3542 times:

Maybe the single most annoying habit of the media is when, in a discussion of virtually any aviation incident, they make reference to "the pilot."

This is something I've complained about repeatedly in my articles and columns, but it never stops.

I fail to understand how, after decades of reporting, the press cannot make it clear that at least * two * fully qualified pilots -- a captain and first officer -- are in the cockpit of every commercial jet. The captain is in command and ultimately responsible for the plane and its occupants, yes, but the first officer, or "copilot" if we must, is not merely along as a backup or helpful apprentice. Tasks are split 50/50, including all hands-on flying duties. A copilot is at the controls for just as many takeoffs and landings as the captain, in both normal and abnormal operations, including many emergencies.

The Associated Press is habitually the worst offender in this regard.

Use of the term “pilot” is fine, but only as a generic reference to * either * crewmember. To cite “the pilot” at exclusion of * the other pilot * (as was done to nauseating excess in the aftermath of the U.S. Airways Hudson River incident), is misleading and incorrect – not to mention rude to first officers like me!


Patrick Smith

[Edited 2010-04-17 18:04:51]

[Edited 2010-04-17 18:30:35]


Patrick Smith is an airline pilot, air travel columnist and author
User currently offlineaviateur From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 1357 posts, RR: 11
Reply 24, posted (4 years 6 months 2 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 3510 times:

Quoting Dreadnought (Thread starter):

Now that's a fantastic picture - the captain sticking his head outside the cockpit window at something like 150+ MPH. Except that I figure it's physically impossible.

While he may not have been standing, literally, he reportedly did open the window and was able to steal glimpses of the runway, which helped them in their approach to Jakarta.

There are many egregious examples out there of the media messing up and sensationalizing aviation stories, but this particular example isn't so bad.


PS



Patrick Smith is an airline pilot, air travel columnist and author
25 EWRandMDW : We had a TV weatherman in Chicago named Jim Tillman who was often called on to report aviation stories. He was considered an expert in the area and wa
26 MD11Engineer : Well, on the Boeings with a 707 style nose section (Section 41) it IS possible to open the sliding winow in flight (obviously with the cabin depressur
27 LUPOR1D : As a journalism student myself I find that statement very offensive and untrue.
28 MD11Engineer : The 747, as the aircraft type mentioned by the OP, has the disadvantage that you can´t open the cockpit windows. They are permanently installed. Jan
29 Macsog6 : The idealism of youth, when I once wanted to be a journalist, has been tempered by my experience with many journalists, most of whom were offensive a
30 Breiz : Journalists cannot know everything about everything. They are "reporters", bringing information to the crowd. Their duty is to verify the correctness
31 Post contains links MayaviaERJ190 : Another case is when they just grab any plane's picture to illustrate a note. Just look at this Mexico-Australia Bilateral note by CNN-Expansion from
32 turbinespoolup : This forum post made me vent and chuckle at the same time.... I am in the RAF, but also a journalism graduate. So I can say I am one of very few journ
33 aviateur : Reportedly. After checking out some sources, it has been brought to my attention that you cannot open the cockpit windows in a 747. Not the old -100
34 spacecadet : Let's all try reading what the article actually said. If I'm sitting here in my living room looking out a window, that does not mean I am sticking my
35 ThirtyEcho : Reporters still talk about "air pockets". The prosecution rests.
36 Post contains images soon7x7 : If your going to be a journalist then your going to have to develop thicker skin than that...expect to be offended a lot by law officials (they are n
37 Anshuk : Its not only aviation that the journalists mess up with. Just the other day, a top news paper in India ran a story about a scam with a certain sport t
38 frmrCapCadet : I cringe at the frequent very general statements dissing journalists on this site, and no I am not a journalists. Journalists tend to do OK on any sto
39 blueflyer : I will not disagree, and I have noticed eye-rolling mistakes by The Economist or the FT aviation correspondent too, but I do remain convinced, as a l
Top Of Page
Forum Index

This topic is archived and can not be replied to any more.

Printer friendly format

Similar topics:More similar topics...
LCC Crash, How Do They Know Who Died? posted Sun Oct 30 2005 11:58:41 by Dogfighter2111
KL's A310s- are they still around and where do they fly? posted Mon Jan 5 2004 20:49:06 by LanAlemania
Blue Fox- Do You Know Anything?! posted Tue Jan 16 2001 22:29:52 by Englandair
How Do Journalists Write Aviation Stories? posted Thu Oct 12 2006 19:30:44 by Flyf15
NW DC10s: Where Do They Fly And For How Long? posted Thu Oct 20 2005 18:25:21 by Usa4624
How Much Aviation History Do You Know? posted Fri May 14 2004 17:09:59 by LGB Photos
How Do They Utilise Crew LAX/SIN And Return posted Thu Feb 5 2004 03:11:53 by JaseWGTN
Chicago Cubs-What airlines do they and other teams use? posted Sun Sep 28 2003 22:32:37 by Ual777contrail
Why Do They Dim The Lights On T/o And Landing posted Thu Jul 31 2003 21:12:41 by Vimanav
We Know They Know Nothing About Aviation When... posted Thu May 2 2002 08:34:33 by Serge