Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Reporter/blogger in battle over EMI on aircraft

It's pretty unusual to see journalists sniping at each other across the country, but that's happening today between aviation reporter Christine Negroni and a blogger at the New York Times.

Negroni, who reported for the Times this year on a story about the electromagnetic interference consumer devices could cause for airplane navigation systems, is hitting Times blogger Nick Bilton hard for a series of posts that pooh poohs the threat.

Negroni makes a rationale rational argument before unleashing the journalistic version of the "nuclear option."

For those who prefer their pilots not to be wetting their pants over suspected EMI flight control issues I'll point out that it is a basic tenet of aviation safety that events are more predictive than accidents. These pilots were reporting on the precursors to crashes.

But Bilton, having spoken to at last count about half a dozen people over the course of four posts tells Times readers its "time to change the rules."

He's wrong. Aviation's remarkable record is the result of eliminating anticipated risks and creating redundant systems for the risks and errors that are unpredictable. The use of portable electronic devices falls squarely in the former.

Bilton would know that if he felt the need to take his reporting even slightly off the path between his hunches and his biases. As a blogger he may not need to do that, but as someone who's opinions fall under the banner of The New York Times, he and his editors certainly ought to.


By the way, it would be "whose opinions."


  1. But, Bob, it would also be "rational".

  2. Whoops. Meant to change that. Of course, I don't fancy myself a reporter. (g)