Universal dillettantes

Back in the late 90's I attended a meeting with the chief editor of a respected German regional newspaper, the #1 newspaper in that state (not the nation as a whole, probably being in the top 10 or at least top 20 at that time).

There was some useful info about newspaper work, and a discussion later on. The meeting came slowly to its scheduled end, and I decided to risk to crash the party.

I confronted the chief editor with the record of his newspaper during the 1991 Gulf War. I claimed the following:
One third of their info on the war was correct and interesting.
One third of their info on the war was correct, but uninteresting because the ignorant journalist had completely missed the point.
The final third of their info was blatantly false, nonsense.

I also claimed that the record had been like that in all aviation-related issues (my primary interest at that time) for years.

His response was stunning to me; he didn't bother to deny anything.

He said "Such things happen. You need to know that journalists are universal dilettantes."

I recovered from his honesty and suggested to use non-profit external advisers to fact-check articles. There was an aviation museum with a club full of well-informed aviation enthusiasts in town, and an international airport, several aviation-related companies...he was not interested.

My respect for general media had suffered a lot and I have only rated it as topic-giver since then, not trusting them on any details any more.
Sadly, more specialized journals are usually not impartial and independent enough, but dependent on advertisement customers and permissions/invites for interviews, visits and even photo rights.

I recalled the chief editor's remarks when I saw this yesterday:

They even had a Globalhawk picture on the screen for a while...
(Make sure to click on the "this" link above if you don't find the problem!)

Sven Ortmann

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