by Denyse O'Leary
The average journalist is a busy bee, with more stories than space, fewer allotted words than needed, and not nearly enough time for research. Oh yeah, and I haven't even got to underpaid, overworked, underappreciated by bosses, and - if well known - widely hated. Sometimes working journalists are arrested or shot or have their homes tossed, or maybe get beaten to death. And I am talking only about the bad luck of professionals in my own country (Canada), not the goof-ups of moonlighting amateurs.
(Note: News anchors whose hair spray contributes more than 5% to global warming are not included in my definition of "working journalist". I propose to talk about real journalists, the people who really get the story - or don't.)
One way that journalists save time is to develop a template to fit stories into so as to turn them out quickly - the good guys, the bad guys, the implicit assumptions and the predictions about how it will all turn out.
When covering the intelligent design controversy, the journalist does not have time to read any books by ID theorists or even any balanced accounts of the controversy.
So the simplest approach is to present the whole story as a subset of the US culture wars.
So, ID guys vs. Darwinists becomes fundie whackjobs vs. right-thinking Americans.
The surprising thing is that it really doesn't matter what the mainstream media do. The mainstream media, bleeding circulation and ad lineage, are toast anyway.
Just as ID is not a conspiracy to usher in a theocracy, the decline of the legacy mainstream media is not a conspiracy by right-wing whackos against righteous liberals. Quite simply, the readership/audience for legacy media is migrating, at least in part, to new Internet-based, interactive technology.
Blogging, podcasting, discussion groups, et cetera, are doing to print media and TV what TV did to radio and what both TV and radio did to newspapers - limiting their scope and changing their function. (Newspapers and TV stations can and do start their own community blogs, of course, but they are competing with a host of start-ups when they do. And interactive is not the world they know best.)
On this particular point, people sometimes ask me, why are North American media overwhelmingly more liberal than most of their readers?
The skew originates in the fact that communities with traditional values encourage young people who are good communicators to go into the clergy and religious organizations. That leaves young people with less traditional values to go into the media.
When North American traditionalists focus directly on media rather than on church-based activities, they typically find a sustainable audience. Consider, for example, Eternal Word Television Network, right wing talk radio, or conservative book publishing and blogging, among other examples.
But now, back to the legacy media for a moment: One outcome of the good-guys/bad-guys template, based on the situation described above, is that legacy media figures are often astonishingly naive about developments in the ID controversy.
Two brief examples:
Mainstream US media had a really hard time believing that the Pope is not a fan of Darwin and his materialist heirs - as if the Pope could possibly be a fan.
North American media have consistently misrepresented the Catholic Church's views as being far more favorable to Darwinian evolution as the explanation for our human origin than it really is.
The current Pope is trying to clarify that - not for the North American media but for the world. So for many months, journalists have been looking for American scientists who are Catholics to reassure them that it isn't so.
What else can they do? They honestly believe that only fundie whackjobs doubt Darwin or materialism in general. The right-thinking people they associate with have never remotely considered evaluating the evidence for Darwin's view of life. Surely there must be some mistake. The Pope was suppose to be safe.
Journalists also lend a ready ear to predictions of the demise of ID theory, based on court judgments such as Dover. They tend to be oblivious to the fact that adverse court judgements are one of the main engines of growth - because such judgments attract more people to find out about it, and therefore more fans, foes, and funding - to say nothing of young scientists who want to pursue ID related research, but are advised to do it very, very discreetly in the present climate.
Toronto-based Canadian journalist Denyse O'Leary (www.designorchance.com) is the author of the multiple award-winning By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress 2004), an overview of the intelligent design controversy. She was named CBA Canada's Recommended Author of the Year in 2005 and is co-author, with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of the forthcoming The Spiritual Brain (Harper 2007).
No Pingbacks for this post yet...
|<< <||> >>|
Evolution has become a favorite topic of the news media recently, but for some reason, they never seem to get the story straight. The staff at Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture started this Blog to set the record straight and make sure you knew "the rest of the story".
A blogger from New England offers his intelligent reasoning.
We are a group of individuals, coming from diverse backgrounds and not speaking for any organization, who have found common ground around teleological concepts, including intelligent design. We think these concepts have real potential to generate insights about our reality that are being drowned out by political advocacy from both sides. We hope this blog will provide a small voice that helps rectify this situation.
Website dedicated to comparing scenes from the "Inherit the Wind" movie with factual information from actual Scopes Trial. View 37 clips from the movie and decide for yourself if this movie is more fact or fiction.
Don Cicchetti blogs on: Culture, Music, Faith, Intelligent Design, Guitar, Audio
Australian biologist Stephen E. Jones maintains one of the best origins "quote" databases around. He is meticulous about accuracy and working from original sources.
Most guys going through midlife crisis buy a convertible. Austrialian Stephen E. Jones went back to college to get a biology degree and is now a proponent of ID and common ancestry.
Complete zipped downloadable pdf copy of David Stove's devastating, and yet hard-to-find, critique of neo-Darwinism entitled "Darwinian Fairytales"
Intelligent Design The Future is a multiple contributor weblog whose participants include the nation's leading design scientists and theorists: biochemist Michael Behe, mathematician William Dembski, astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, philosophers of science Stephen Meyer, and Jay Richards, philosopher of biology Paul Nelson, molecular biologist Jonathan Wells, and science writer Jonathan Witt. Posts will focus primarily on the intellectual issues at stake in the debate over intelligent design, rather than its implications for education or public policy.
A Philosopher's Journey: Political and cultural reflections of John Mark N. Reynolds. Dr. Reynolds is Director of the Torrey Honors Institute at