Friday, October 14, 2005

Freudian Slip by ABC?

Looking for the latest shots fired between ABC News and the nuclear research community, I googled the title of an AP article that I learned included some criticism about ABC's sham of an investigation. I was surprised when an ABC link was returned. I'll get to my reaction to the story in just a minute, but what nearly made me spew orange juice over my keyboard was that ABC has filed this under Entertainment. Frankly, I couldn't agree more with the placement.

Irony aside, most of the article just served to make me want to take the interns, their supervisor, and the ABC execs firmly by the ears and give them MY tour of a research reactor.

By now Eric and others have disputed most of the erroneous details of the story and have called out the powers-that-be at ABC.

But I want to take issue with the interns. The AP story says

Ross said it wasn't a case of the interns being taught "gotcha" journalism instead of investigative journalism. The students did a great deal of research into the nuclear programs before going to the universities, he said.
Yet, Dana Hughes, a journalism student at Columbia University, is quoted as saying that if all it took to get into facilities was talking like a student or flirting
some people could find that a questionable line of defense
Yes, I suppose that many people who are unaware of the vast operational and material differences between a commerical plant and a research facility would question the security. However, any honest research into the matter would have revealed that most university reactors do grant tours rather liberally with or without flirting or a student ID. Further research would clearly demonstrate the reason such tours are allowed, and that is that with minimal precautions (like not allowing bags into the area around the reactor) there really isn't anything a tourist can do to seriously jeopardize the security of the material or the safety of the public.

But that's the point, isn't it?

A journalist with integrity would have sought to educate the average American on this little known subject. But who needs integrity when a little yellow journalism will get you a cushy new job at ABC News?

1 comment:

Matthew66 said...

The ABC interns say they weren't lying when they said they were "students". Given that they were on assignment from ABC, I would argue that were at least being deceptive.

In another scenario, say of immigration, there would be no doubt. If an Australian university student, working as an intern for a media organization, attempted to enter the US on the visa waiver program, s/he would be quite rightly detained and deported because all journalists require visas to enter the US - it doesn't matter the purpose for which the journalist is entering.

I think we will find that all research and industrial facilities will in future require all visitors to complete security cards which would require them to disclose if they are journalists. And if it is a state or federal facility, then lying on such a form would be a serious offense.