Re: Wanted: Info on Airbus

From:         hess@boi.hp.com (Kevin C. Hess)
Organization: Hewlett Packard
Date:         31 Oct 94 01:58:18 
References:   1
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ABC's request for more information on Airbus Pilot/systems interface issues
should be considerd in context *PRIOR* to responding to their request.

As an owner of firearms, I have had the chance to observe the medias' approach 
when dealing with substantive issues which they do not understand.  The
approach used is to collect pertinent technical and statistical data, as
well as meaningfull opinions from those "in the know".  The information
that is collected by the "research" reporter is then passed on to at least
one, but sometimes more than one, staff writer.  The writer(s) generally
try to make a balanced story, but have received the material second hand
and usually fail to understand the deeper technical issues that are directly
associated with the topic being discussed.  This is a direct result of
the writers not being present during any interviews being conducted, and
therefore unable to ask followup questions for clarification.

After the story is written, it is usually passed through the review of
both and editor, and the producer of the show/news.  These folks have 
little concern for accuracy, rather their concern is to ensure that the
show is "watchable" (read as sensational) and "isn't too deep for the common
man" (read as oversimplified).  Note:  there is no concern for the truth.

The net result of such efforts on your part to explain in depth the issues
at hand is the garbling of the story (from your point of view).  Quotes
you have made will be taken out of context.  Explanations which make the
subtle points clear are totally lost.  The effort you have expended in
helping them build a story is not the story you thought it would be.

As an exercise, if you do choose to contact ABC and offer assistance, ask
them for the right to review the story prior to broadcast, and if you
find it unacceptable, to pull your contribution.  THe response you get 
to this request can be used as a guage for the honesty and flexability
of the organization you are dealing with.

I started by saying that I own firearms, and through that my exposure to
the press has been shaped.  Without considering your personal stand on the
issue of private ownership of firearms, ask yourself this question: 

Have I seen as many positive stories on firearms as negative ones?

If not, then you might think about the result of your efforts if you replace
"firearm" with "Airbus" or even the generic "airplane".  Do you wish to have
a reporter, editor or producer do a hatchet job on a device you are associated
with, simply because it suits thier needs?

-Kevin

The statements/opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the 
Hewlett-Packard Company.  HP paid a research firm millions of dollars to
get their own opinions, and has made it clear they do not wish to share mine.

Kevin C. Hess (KB7UKR)               Hewlett-Packard Network Printer Division 
hess@hpdmd48.boi.hp.com              (208) 396-3384   Boise, Idaho  83704