Nice one, Randall. Something inside me died when I saw a newspaper article quote a forum comment as a source of public opinion. I suppose that it’s not too much different to interviewing a random person on the street for the TV news. The public, clearly, love seeing themselves elevated to the position of providing news commentary which used to (sometimes, at least) be the domain of those with relevant qualifications or experience.
Randy Olson over at TheBenshi has looked at the environmental reporting and science communication about the Gulf oil spill:
“…there’s widespread concern that the overall quality of environmental reporting will inevitably suffer. I think I may have seen the consequences of this already over the past three weeks as I looked into the parallels between the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969 and the current Gulf oil spill. Being nothing more than an amateur journalist, I was ready to muscle my way into the pack of professionals I expected to encounter in Santa Barbara . Instead, I found that I had the place to myself.”
Sigh. I ran into an anecdote last night though: “Fact of life.” There are forces out there beyond my control; whinging about them isn’t going to help. Instead, I’ll do my best to promote good practice in my (currently, very limited!) sphere of influence. While I might be viewed as hypocritical (commenting, as a member of the public, on news) I don’t pretend that my opinion is worth more than the next guy just because I’ve gone to the effort of typing it out!