Local newspaper idiots.


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Echo23TC
September 19, 2003, 12:55 PM
In an unfortunate incident, a local highschool student brought a handgun to school with bad intent the other day. Fortunately someone snitched and he was caught before he could do anything.


BUT , the city paper reported that he had a "loaded .25-millimeter handgun" in his possesion.

Think about that for a second. .25 millimeter. Get out a ruler and look at it. Does that seem WRONG, perhaps?

Sigh.

I'd write, but I don't believe it would do any good. Besides, the more they get wrong on things like that, the more people don't read them anyway, or take what they do read with a BIG grain of salt.

Here's the link, if anyone cares to read it.
http://www.helenair.com/articles/2003/09/19/helena_top/1a091903_01.txt

What's that tagline from the StraightDope? "Fighting Ignorance since 1973 (It's taking longer than we thought!)"

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TallPine
September 19, 2003, 01:10 PM
.25-millimeter handgun

I don't think that caliber would be very dangerous :rolleyes:

What was is loaded with, a grain of salt ??? :D

RobW
September 19, 2003, 01:19 PM
Having dealt with so called "journalists" for my former employer (gear shaping machine factory) I still wonder how they could get such a job.

Even after hours of 101 explanation about the function of such a machine, they wrote totally nonsense. As it was a local paper, everybody working in the factory just got a fit of laughter.

cslinger
September 19, 2003, 01:29 PM
I don't think that caliber would be very dangerous

Yeah but think of the ammunition capacity. Man if the AWB goes away I've gotta get me a wunderpointtwofive with a 400 round magazine.

TallPine
September 19, 2003, 01:32 PM
Yeah, we gotta get rid of that Salt Weapon Ban

:D

Unisaw
September 19, 2003, 01:47 PM
Oh, no. Is this going to turn into a big/slow vs. small/fast debate? :D

Andrew Rothman
September 19, 2003, 01:59 PM
I have a degree in journalism and worked for a time as a reporter for a daily paper.

Remember that a newspaper reporter, and especially a small-town newspaper, must be a jack of all trades. On Monday you're writing a crime story; Tuesday, a medical story. On Wednesday, maybe a court story, and on Thursday, a city council story. On Friday, maybe it's a pet feature.

Now remember that the reporter is not a gun hobbyist, a cop, a doctor, a lawyer, an alderman or a veterinarian. She's an educated generalist, whose job it is to get the facts, try to learn enough to put them in perspective, explain the whole thing in writing, and get it in to the editor by 3:00.

Ridiculing this reporter for her mistake is pretty pointless. I mean, you can feel smug and superior, but it doesn't help increase anyone's understanding or decrease anti-gun prejudice.

Instead, try this. If you have any group affiliation (gun club, gun store, RKBA group, etc), call and send a letter explaining that you are so-and-so, that you have an interest in such-and-such, and are willing to be a quotable source involving events within your area of expertise.

Or heck -- be really ambitious and write a one-page "novice's guide to gun terminology" that lays out common calibers and their relative size and effectiveness, defines "automatic," "semi-automatic," "assault weapon," etc. Put your number at the top, laminate it and suggest that the copy desk keep it around as a quick reference. (Stop by the library or a college book store and look at the "AP Style Guide" for formatting suggestions.)

Yes, there are those with an anti-gun bias in the media (especially around here), but for the most part reporters DO want to get it right. So recognize their realistic limitations and try to help them overcome their ignorance in as nice a way as possible.

Matt

Keith
September 19, 2003, 02:15 PM
There are Howda pistols with a one inch bore - 25 millimeters. I'd love to have one.

Keith

Dain Bramage
September 19, 2003, 02:23 PM
Okay Mpayne, even we concede your point, I have two questions.

First, why are they untrainable? They keep making the same bone-headed mistakes, over and over again, even after being corrected by the public.

Second, why are they inept in their own subject? I have never seen more errors in spelling and grammar than I have in the last couple of years. Is it always the typesetter's fault? Do all editors have the intelligence of mushrooms?

Yeah...don't answer that last one.

seeker_two
September 19, 2003, 02:30 PM
BUT , the city paper reported that he had a "loaded .25-millimeter handgun" in his possesion.

For those who hunt elephants with the .17HMR, perhaps?...:scrutiny:

A call to the LEO's involved would have saved a lot of embarassment...:D

Andrew Rothman
September 19, 2003, 02:43 PM
Okay Mpayne, even we concede your point, I have two questions.

First, why are they untrainable? They keep making the same bone-headed mistakes, over and over again, even after being corrected by the public.

Well, I don't think "they" are making the same mistakes over and over. This podunk town and its five reporters probably sees two local gun-related stories a year, so you might figure this reporter did her last gun story over a year ago. And we all know there are a myriad of errors to be made when reporting on the technical details of firearms.

Second, why are they inept in their own subject? I have never seen more errors in spelling and grammar than I have in the last couple of years. Is it always the typesetter's fault? Do all editors have the intelligence of mushrooms?

Yeah...don't answer that last one.

Well, maybe your proofreading skills have improved lately? :)

The story in question seems gramatically and orthographically sound. Remember that we tend to fixate on that which sticks out, not that which blends in. Take your daily newspaper and a red pen and see how many mistakes you find in any one issue. I think you'll see that it's pretty good overall. Of course, as in all things, YMMV.

Here in Minneapolis, the Star Tribune is often accused of being a left-leaning, liberal piece of birdcage liner. But I have to say, they spell things right, use proper grammar, and get technical details right in the vast majority of cases. (It helps that a large metro paper has one or two police-beat-only reporters who quickly learn the lingo.)

This isn't a blanket defense; Newspapers, like all products, vary in quality, workmanship and attention to detail. And reporting, like any other profession, has the usual bell curve of superstars, solid performers and idiots.

Matt

(P.S. - Being a gun newbie, it's nice to get a chance to spout off about something I actually know something about! :))

TallPine
September 19, 2003, 03:51 PM
You have to remember that any gun cartridge with the name "millimeter" in the name is far more dangerous and deadly than the decimal calibers, because that's what the military uses.

So my guess is the reporter added the "millimeter" word after the fact.


One might expect a college educated journalist to know that .25 millimeter is about .01 inch, even if he/she knew nothing about guns.

Mark Tyson
September 19, 2003, 04:34 PM
I think it's safe to say we all make stupid mistakes concerning things we are not overly familiar with.

jerryd
September 19, 2003, 04:38 PM
I se this everyday in the papers,and it gets me upset! How could anyone write a story about something they have no clue about, can you imagine me a electrictian, writing about brain surgery? Give me a break, if i wired your house up wrong i dont think you would overlook it would you? The reporters have a job to inform the public of facts not opinions, all they do is confuse and misinform the people just like the politictians, am i not correct? Now that i said my piece lets see what other comments come in Jerry!

iamkris
September 19, 2003, 04:39 PM
newspaper idiots

Whooop, whooop, whooop -- redundancy alert

CZ 75 BD
September 19, 2003, 04:40 PM
one of the info-babes said the .223 traveled at 3150 square feet per second.

Dain Bramage
September 19, 2003, 05:12 PM
Mmmm...Infobabe *drool*

I never pay attention to what they say.:D

Oh, and Mpayne: what a well written and reasoned response to my sweeping generalizations. Are you sure you have a degree in journalism? :scrutiny:

Andrew Rothman
September 19, 2003, 05:24 PM
I se this everyday in the papers,and it gets me upset! How could anyone write a story about something they have no clue about, can you imagine me a electrictian, writing about brain surgery?

Did you read what I wrote at all? A reporter is a generalist who has to learn new subject matter every day. One day they might write about new advances in brain surgery; the next they may write an article about electrical wiring.

I suppose that newspapers could hire electricians and brain surgeons and cops and lawyers and all, train them to write, and then keep them on staff in case a story broke in their subject area, but your newspaper subscription would cost about $149 per day.

That's not to say that they never fail, or that they always do as good as they could, but imagine how well YOU would do writing a story about brain surgery!

Matt

Andrew Rothman
September 19, 2003, 05:29 PM
One might expect a college educated journalist to know that .25 millimeter is about .01 inch, even if he/she knew nothing about guns.

Sure, but if you don't know what you're measuring, maybe it's reasonable. Isn't cartridge brass about .25mm thick?

I would guess she thought the words "millimeter" and "caliber" were interchangable. After all, when we hear about guns, they are always "38 caliber" or "9 millimeter" or something. How would a non-gun person know that some cartridge sizes are metric and other English?

This reporter should have asked someone if she didn't understand. The problem is, she didn't know what she didn't know.

Matt

Andrew Rothman
September 19, 2003, 05:31 PM
Oh, and Mpayne: what a well written and reasoned response to my sweeping generalizations. Are you sure you have a degree in journalism?

Yes, but I'm feeling much better now. :)

TallPine
September 19, 2003, 05:44 PM
Of course, when people are studying (and colleges are teaching) journalism, it never even occurs to them that they might one day be required to write an article about criminal activity that involves firearms.

Andrew Rothman
September 19, 2003, 05:49 PM
Of course, when people are studying (and colleges are teaching) journalism, it never even occurs to them that they might one day be required to write an article about criminal activity that involves firearms.
<sarcasm>
Sure -- just use the Encyclopedia Brittanica as a Journalism syllabus, and they should be pretty much covered!
</sarcasm>

Step outside of your own little world for a moment. Guns are central to your life, but are off most people's radar.

Besides, you knew exactly what gun she was talking about. So get over it.

Matt

Quartus
September 19, 2003, 06:07 PM
Mpayne, is it too much to ask that they simply report facts as the are given them? (I'd be VERY surprised if that reporter was told it was a .25 millimeter. )



Apparently so.

TallPine
September 19, 2003, 06:17 PM
Journalists .... :rolleyes:

Standing Wolf
September 19, 2003, 06:19 PM
Speaking strictly as a guy who's been making his living writing and editing since 1966, I can truthfully tell you copy editing and proofreading are almost lost arts.

Quartus
September 19, 2003, 06:31 PM
Of course, when people are studying (and colleges are teaching) journalism, it never even occurs to them that they might one day be required to write an article about criminal activity that involves firearms.





Hmmm. I'm wondering what kind of response you'd get if you offered to go in and teach a basic one hour seminar on gun terminology to your local journalism school. For free.

Anyone think they'd be interested?

feedthehogs
September 19, 2003, 06:34 PM
Journalists are supposed to report the facts in an unbiased manner I am told.

When was this ever done?

When I ran for office many years ago the local birdcage liner Palm Beach Post interviewed all the candidates and reported on their positions. I answered my questions short and to the point.
When the article came out it seemed to me I must have been in another room because what they wrote was not even close to how I answered the questions.

When a friend ran in the 2000 election he was interviewed also. But he took a tape recorder into the interview room and asked to record the meeting to make sure the facts were reported correctly.
The so-called journalists refused his request.

As a jack-of-all-trades, reporters should know better you would think.
But how does that saying go,
"Jack of all trades, master of none".

The NY Times scandal is just a small example of how journalism is really conducted.

Do this, watch the evening news or read the newspaper for two to three days. Then actually research the stories. I guarantee at least a third will have wrong "facts" reported.

standingbear
September 19, 2003, 07:15 PM
wow..the perfect gun has finally arrived to shoot those pesky ants hanging around our sink.the fly swatter is too messy and ant hotels filled with poison..just too unsightly.does it come in chrome?

FPrice
September 19, 2003, 07:19 PM
"Think about that for a second. .25 millimeter. Get out a ruler and look at it. Does that seem WRONG, perhaps?"

Yes, it is wrong, but I think it is not big enough to get ruffled over.

Better you should worry about correcting stuff like claims that guns accidentally kill 10-12 children a day or that so-called "assault weapons" are more dangerous than other guns.

Andrew Rothman
September 19, 2003, 07:26 PM
I know that slagging on Democrats, police officers and journalists is a popular pastime here. There are certainly many cases of anti-gun prejudice finding its way onto news pages.

This just isn't one of those cases.

This was a mistake. It makes the writer look kind of dumb to those of us who know better, but that's all. She wrote "mm" in the place of "caliber."

There are positive things you can do. Offer to help them increase their accuracy. Be a counter-influence to the Brady Bunch by making yourself available for comments.

Or you could sit here and disparage all journalists as liars on the basis of one small-town reporter making an easy mistake.

Your choice.

Matt

geegee
September 19, 2003, 07:44 PM
Besides, you knew exactly what gun she was talking about. So get over it.
I don't think so. I agree with your point that we should all be willing to cut someone some slack, and surely all who post here make mistakes daily, for which we'd like to experience some grace.

Here's the problem, however. This one reporter's mistake doesn't amount to much in the greater "gun control" argument, but every stinkin' day there are erroneous reports about gun use, children killing children, mis-named firearms of every type imaginable (and most are close to being imagined), and other inflammatory "reporting" that has lead to most all of us made to feel as though we are societal freaks, because we own firearms. :fire:

Do you think this reporter has it in her to ever file a report which would show the benefit of firearm ownership? Should we ever hope that any of your ilk will ever report for example, that "Last night, a single mother of two used a pistol to defend herself and her children from an assailant. She never had to fire a shot, but their would-be attacker fled the scene when confronted by a woman who was legally carrying a pistol, and obviously knew how to use it?" Can you imagine which paper or magazine, or TV station would ever run that report?

I'm sure you think that too many of us are already piling on, but when it comes to gun reporting and the media, you folks have been getting it wrong for years, and with no accountability whatsoever. geegee

makarov1
September 19, 2003, 08:50 PM
MPayne is on the right track. Reporters, particularly in small communities, lack technical knowledge in most areas, including the world of firearms. .25 millimeter obviously should have been .25 caliber.

However, since most journalists have left-of-center leanings, journalists don't let facts get in the way of a good firearms related story, or omit critical facts when firearms were used by citzens to "persuade" a derranged gunman to drop his weapon and give up.

It was clear after the Appalachian Law School shooting in Southwest Virginia, that journalists will avoid reporting about guns in a positive light at all costs. If they can't spin the facts to suit their particular left-wing agenda, they just omit them. To the best of my knowledge, the Richmond Times Dispatch was the only major newspaper that didn't omit the fact that the crazed gunman was disarmed at gunpoint by armed citizens, and not just tackled, as had been reported by all the major networks and nearly all newspapers.

A few days after the shooting at the Appalachian Law School, I asked a VERY anti-gun left-wing friend of mine why he thought that key facts were omitted from nearly all coverage of the story. In a nutshell, his response was, "It's just not that important."

BINGO. Immediately I understood. Facts that make guns look like they have a mind of their own, going off and committing mass murder against helpless, unarmed victims are IMPORTANT facts. Facts that put guns in a positive perspective, such as the disarming of the Appalachian Law School shooter, are just "not important."

Needless to say, now I have a deep distrust of journalists in general, particularly journalists pushing a mostly left-wing political agenda. One should stick to the facts when writing, and leave out any political slant or bias. Too bad most journalists don't adhere to this.

Sisco
September 19, 2003, 09:01 PM
Speaking strictly as a guy who's been making his living writing and editing since 1966, I can truthfully tell you copy editing and proofreading are almost lost arts

I barely squeaked by in high school English yet I find grammatical errors in the local paper all the time.
In fact, I quit taking the local rag for a couple of reasons:
The place where I work is in the news often because of a planned expansion. Every time I would read an article dealing with the company I would find numerous misquotes and errors in facts and figures. Sure made me wonder about the articles I read that I had no inside knowledge of.
Add to that the editors leftist beliefs that came through on every page from page one to the comics and I just couldn't take it anymore.
I mean the staff didn't just lean to the left, they had an extreme Port list!

Justin
September 19, 2003, 09:05 PM
Having seen the inner workings of a television news room, I've got to side with Matt on this one. Not only are reporters expected to cover stories on a myriad of topics, they are also expected to have said story completed in an extremely short period of time.

Matt is right, that is the nature of the biz. Even assuming a reporter was completely unbiased wouldn't change the fact that they're bound to make mistakes on topics they don't know anything about.

Where the problem really arises is that so many people willingly believe so much of what they are told via the newspaper or television. It seems that many people don't have the critical thinking skills needed to be able to dissect a story and filter it through their own perceptions. They simply swallow it whole.

And I'm not seeing much that is likely to change the situation. In order to do that, you'd need pro-rights individuals to look into becoming journalists, or at least offer themselves as quotable sources. At the very least, you could offer to take a reporter to the range on one of their days off.

BOBE
September 19, 2003, 09:30 PM
If the police reported that the gun used was a 25 cal. and probably not .25, by the way. Why did she not copy what the report read? Just asking. :what:
Bob

pax
September 19, 2003, 09:48 PM
Bobe --

Probably because the police report said something like, "The student arrived at school with a .25 Lorcin handgun..." and the reporter had to fill in the blanks.

***************

One of the many reasons that journalists "always" get it wrong on guns is because the only people taking Matt's advice in his first post are people who support HCI and the MMM.

But it's a lot more fun to gripe than to get off your butt and do something useful for your RKBA.

pax

Andrew Rothman
September 19, 2003, 09:59 PM
My forehead is starting to ache from banging it against this brick wall here, so I'll say this briefly, one more time.

SOME JOURNALISTS SHOW BIAS; THIS ONE DIDN'T. SOME MAY DELIBERATELY DISTORT FACTS. THIS ONE DIDN'T. FIREARM CALIBER IS PRETTY ESOTERIC TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC. SHE GOT IT WRONG. THERE IS NO WAY TO INTERPRET THIS MISTAKE AS A PURPOSEFUL ANTI-GUN DISTORTION.

As for the nasty cracks about "your ilk," I said I WORKED, past tense, for a newspaper. At the time, I had no interest in or knowledge in firearms. I occasionally covered cop stories. And I stand behind every word I wrote. I made an effort to get it right.

And you know what? Most reporters do.

(The management, on the other hand...)

So go ahead and lump all reporters together if that's the extent of your intelligence and imagination. After all, you like it fine when people lump all those fanatical murdering gun nuts together, right? :)

Matt

Quartus
September 19, 2003, 11:04 PM
Needless to say, now I have a deep distrust of journalists in general


Now? What took you so long?



Matt, I don't disagree that this was an error, not bias, but it doesn't take any expertise in firearms to simply report what you are told, and AVOID FILLING IN THE BLANKS. I'm not an expert in noooKleer fisics, but I can at least tell you what the PhD said without adding my own 2 cents in.


That only takes decent reporting.

geegee
September 20, 2003, 12:16 AM
SOME JOURNALISTS SHOW BIAS; THIS ONE DIDN'T.
Great. But let's clarify something: It's not that some journalists show bias (where gun stories are concerned), it's that the overwhelming majority of journalists for years have been playing fast and loose with the truth, mis-stating facts, and applying their own liberal, anti-gun editorial slant where any gun related stories have a chance of appearing.
As for the nasty cracks about "your ilk," I said I WORKED, past tense, for a newspaper.
That's nasty? Please. :rolleyes:
I made an effort to get it right.
Thank you for that. When and where that happens, it's greatly appreciated.
And I couldn't be more sincere.
And you know what? Most reporters do.
Where gun related stories are concerned? No they don't. Not if there's the slightest chance the truth will portray a gun owner as a responsible citizen, with the possibility of being shown in a good light. None of us should expect to be seen as a white knight in shining armor just because we own firearms, but neither should we be vilified for that either.
So go ahead and lump all reporters together if that's the extent of your intelligence and imagination. After all, you like it fine when people lump all those fanatical murdering gun nuts together, right?
My intelligence and imagination are such that I've been able to recognize the anti gun bias in the media for years. Anyone smarter than a bag of hammers could do the same, and I'm at least that smart.

I don't like it when people unfairly exhibit a prejudice against any group for any reason, but the media in this country have done so for years where gun owners are concerned and I'm sick of it. I own guns, regularly shoot guns, and regret not having more guns.

I'm not part of the problem and in all honesty Mpayne, I doubt that you are either. Unfortunately, you've identified yourself to be a gun owning former member of a group that regularly paints you, me and the rest of our ilk (;) ) as psychopathic nuts that should expect to be mistrusted because of the things we own, as opposed to the behavior we display. Please don't think I meant this to be an attack on you personally, because I surely didn't. All the best, geegee

Andrew Rothman
September 20, 2003, 10:29 AM
Media bias is a fascinating and complex field of study. While I can't argue that the media disproportionately reports on "bad" gun stories over good ones, there are layers to this that need to be dissected.

But first, let me say that this thread had a schizophrenic feel to it. It seems like a lot of folks are projecting all the perceived evils of journalists as a whole onto poor Polly Podunk who wrote the story that started the thread. That's unfair. We have no evidence or suspicion that she's anything but ignorant about the terminology around English and metric calibers.

So why does the press come across as anti-gun? Is it a conspiracy?

No.

Well, not usually.

The Exception:
I know there are instances where news media management sets the agenda of the paper. This comes out in which stories are assigned reportorial coverage (there are many more potential news stories in a day than the ones given coverage). It can also appear in the way a reporter's story is edited for publication. (By the way, didya know that a well-meaning but ignorant COPY EDITOR may have "fixed" poor Polly's story, changing "caliber" to "millimeter"? I've had it happen to me!

The Rule:
Newsworthiness. It's one little word, but it's a big one. Here's one publication's list of the elements of newsworthiness. I've added a high-to-low example:


timeliness (yesterday --------- last year)
importance (cure for cancer ------- cure for athlete's foot)
prominence (the mayor had a heart attack ------ Bob Smith had a heart attack)
nearness (local --------- across the country)
conflict (new road built over indian burial ground as thousands protest ------- new road built)
consequence (someone died -------- the burglar ran away)
personal relevance (Laborers facing tough job market ----- Literature PhD's facing tough market)
unusualness (Man bites dog --------- dog bites man)
discovery
suspense (Hostage situation still underway -------- resolved without bloodshed)
human interest (lost puppy found -------- lost car keys found)


For TV, I'll add the biggest one: "Do we have good video?"


So here's the reality: A defensive gun use typically isn't newsworthy, unless a) it's a really small town where any attempted crime at all is news, b) someone gets shot or c) Britney Spears was the gunslinger.

Why are gun stories overwhelmingly negative? Because the legal ownership and use of 100 million guns in this country is largely uneventful.

As I've seen on this site, when a gun owner takes a shot at a bad guy, it makes the news. A gas station robbery in Missouri was covered this week -- the bad guy and the station clerk each had a shotgun, it is unknown whether the BG was hit...

There was nothing anti-gun about that story either.

Here's what I think is really going on. 90% of everyone are sheeple. That includes reporters. (Well, maybe 95% of them!) They have been told all their lives that guns are bad. They see in the newspaper that when guns are used, people get hurt. It becomes their reality and colors their perception of the world.

Our mission, should we decide to accept it, is to change that perception on the part of store owners, politicians and yes, journalists. Until we do -- and it's an uphill battle -- we'll see more unintentional ignorance of guns and their lawful owners.

Matt

Quartus
September 20, 2003, 04:33 PM
It seems like a lot of folks are projecting all the perceived evils of journalists as a whole onto poor Polly Podunk who wrote the story that started the thread. That's unfair. We have no evidence or suspicion that she's anything but ignorant about the terminology around English and metric calibers.



Agreed!

But that ignorance is the norm, and it has, in most cases, its origin in the bias that geegee is talking about. Reporters certainly can't be experts on every subject - we don't expect them to be. But guns are a very common theme in the news. Why don't more reporters know more about this VERY common and NEWSWORTHY subject? Let's run this by again, slowly:


The media in general considers shootings to be very important, very newsworthy. The report on shootings a LOT. They HAMMER the subject. So why don't they get better educated on this very important subject?

Because they don't consider facts about it to be important. They despise guns and gun owners, and deep down in their tiny little brains, they know the facts are not on their side.


As to conspiracy, whether there is one or not might depend on your definition of conspiracy. If you allow that a conspiracy can exist where different people share a common ideology, and where those same people get their information from the same sources, and therefore act in concert without having spoken directly to each other and agreed on a course of action, then YES, there is a conspiracy.


And from time to time, there is actual conspiracy among the big media on major news events.

geegee
September 20, 2003, 05:25 PM
I'm not trying to mix the threads here, but coincidentally here's a timely example that veered into some of this ones discussion of TV media bias:

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&threadid=40933

geegee

Andrew Rothman
September 20, 2003, 06:16 PM
...ignorance is the norm, and it has, in most cases, its origin in the bias...

More likely that bias is the norm, based on ignorance.

Quartus
September 20, 2003, 10:06 PM
Hmmmm. Good point. It's a chicken or the egg kind of thing. But they do feed on each other, don't they?

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