Apparently there was a godawful story on KTLA in Los Angeles the other day about a plane crash. It seems experimental airplanes were described as "death planes," and the reporter was sitting in an RV. Nice.
I have nothing but contempt for lousy reporting such as that turned in by Jaime Chambers and the editors and producers at KTLA. But I reserve some residual bile for people who then jump on bulletin boards, like Van's Air Force, and make unfounded assertions because of the one story:
"This is what worries me about the media is this is how they report on all issues not just Aviation."
"The majority of the general aviation news stories that are reported that I have seen are just plain wrong. Facts and terms used to be checked by reporters. Now it just seems that they read from a teleprompter and spew whatever is in front of them or copy things from a computer and it's fact. And stock photo's of an airplane are good enough."
.. and ...
"I have yet to see a single report on general aircraft and especially homebuilts that are reported with no significant errors and/or obvious bias."
Not one? Here's one. Here's another. Here's another. And another. And another (from way back).
As a matter of fact, just tonight I was reading this story, about how students are overcoming disabilities to become pilots. Yet not a single member of a single aviation bulletin board posted a single mention of that story or any of the others. Why? Because there's an old joke in the newsroom, "Don't check your facts, you'll ruin a good story."
Here's my post this evening on Van's Air Force. I realize it's a waste of time.
I don't defend my profession because it's my profession. I defend -- in this case -- my profession because in my profession I have a naked hatred for inaccuracy and overgeneralization.
You're mad at the KTLA story. I get that. So am I. But phrases like "every GA story is written with inaccuracies or a bias" are simply ignorant and, of course, inaccurate.
The idea that reporters are "out" to get general aviation or that journalists are just so stupid that it's a good day when they remember to zip their pants are insulting.
Here's a story I read just tonight. Students are overcoming disabilities through aviation. But you know what? I looked all over Van's Air Force tonight for someone posting this story, and maybe a comment that this reporter did a good job of portraying general aviation in a good light.
At least four or five times a month, I stick general aviation stories in the Hotline that I think are well done, and I rarely find them by reading VAF, or any other aviation bulletin board for that matter.
When we've already reached a conclusion, we tend to be only interested in data that supports it while ignoring data that might -- if considered -- lead us to question our own conclusions. We don't do that in our country anymore and we're the more ignorant because we don't.
Look, I get the extent to which reporting can stink. Believe me, it can. But I also know there's darned good reporting being done and -- more important -- more positive GA stories than negative GA stories being done. (Matthew Wald of the New York Times is not ignorant on the subject of aviation and neither is James Fallows of The Atlantic)
I realize I'm beating a dead horse here and even with my long-standing passion to try to get many of you involved with the media in your community, I have to admit it's a lost cause. People get their heels dug in against the media, and it makes it tougher for people like me to feel welcomed at the local airport.
So who else besides bad reporters are actively participating in the death of general aviation in this country? General aviators.
General aviation right now is the long goodbye.
Predictably, and understandably I guess, the thread (which I've rewritten slightly) got closed after I posted that. It's not really a productive conversation. People are going to believe what they want to believe.
If we truly value the freedom to fly, approaching our relationships with the media shouldn't be such a chore.
Feel free to discuss this below.