Thursday, August 24, 2006

Journalists Gone Dumb

I'm a journalist and despite the rather poor image we hold in the world I do try to behave professionally.

This includes asking the right questions. Today an international group of astronomers decided that Pluto was no longer a planet. The various stories covering this decision, which I disagree with, were straight to the point covering all the issues that went into the decision. However, a story by the Associated press had this little gem:

NASA said Thursday that Pluto's demotion would not affect its US$700 million New Horizons spacecraft mission, which earlier this year began a 9 1/2-year journey to the oddball object to unearth more of its secrets.
"We will continue pursuing exploration of the most scientifically interesting objects in the solar system, regardless of how they are categorized," Paul Hertz, chief scientist for the science mission directorate, said in a statement.

The only way I can believe that this answer was generated was in response to this question.

"So, how does Pluto's new status impact your mission?"

Why would any reporter ask that question? Did he or she expect NASA to respond with "Damn them for changing Pluto's planetary status. We are recalling the probe and canceling the $700 million mission. Why bother investigating since Pluto is now only a Minor Planet."

Of course, the mission will continue!! Geez.....


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