Don’t trust what you read

Here at CSIC Galicia we have a very good media person, and my colleague Cristina Sanchez-Carretero and I, who have recently joined the Heritage Lab in Santiago de Compostela as staff researchers, are getting lots of press coverage lately. Well, not lots, but definitely a lot more than what I am used to. In the last few weeks I have been interviewed a few times and I have appeared in a number of local and regional newspapers.

Usually, I like media. Or, rather, I like the work they do. I appreciate their role in society and I understand that they are necessary elements that help us researchers spread the word of what we do to non-technical people. We need them; without them, we would be forever isolated in our lonely ivory towers.

However, sometimes they fail miserably. Last monday, the local paper De Luns a Venres included an interview with me based on a phone conversation that a journalist from that paper and I had held a few days back. I wasn’t sure when my interview would be published, and when that Monday I opened the paper on the bus on my way to work and saw my own face staring at me with that haunted look, I could not help but anticipate that something was wrong. I read through and yes, there it was. The answers to some of the questions that I get asked in the interview are totally or partially made up. Yes, that’s what I mean: I didn’t answer what you can read on the paper.

In some cases, they “extended” what I really answered on the phone with some adornments. Maybe they felt my answer was too terse or bland for their audience. In some other cases, the answer I gave is just not there, and an alternative, totally unrelated answer takes its place.

I couldn’t believe the lack of professionalism exhibited by this paper. This is a brief interview and I am not talking about anything important; it’s just a few personal things and a very, very abstract description of what I do at work. Still, making up interview answers is appalling.

So, don’t trust what you read. Not everything, anyway.


4 Responses to “Don’t trust what you read”

  1. 1 Fernando 28 October 2008 at 13:12

    I’ve been reading your interview, I don’t think it was so bad. I’m sure that they connected with their audience and everybody had the chance to get to know you better.

    Think about it, isn’t your slogan “Nothing Ever Happens”?
    Don’t you love the lunch hour? Aren’t you working to spread out the use of information technologies between the common people? Don’t you love a lot of books? Isn’t your favourite movie 12 Monkeys? Recognize it bud! You’re the man of the picture.

  2. 2 cesargon 28 October 2008 at 17:08

    When they asked me what my fave book was, I replied instantly and clearly: “Alfanhuí”. Instead of printing that, they decided to skip it and blabber about how much I love so many books. Which, incidentally, is false. I often criticise the poor quality of what gets published. So making me appear as an “oh-my-good-look-how-many-lovely-books-there-are” wimp is unfair, unprofessional and ridiculous.
    And it’s breakfast. I love breakfast, not lunch.

  3. 3 Fernando 29 October 2008 at 10:23

    Oh, well I’m sorry, I forgot your breakfast, and It seems that the interviewer did too.
    And talking about the book, what can I say? Probably your interviewer had never heard about ‘Alfanhuí’, and may be he didn’t even get to write down the name correctly so he probably decided to innovate some other stuff.
    Finally I think you are right then: we shouldn’t trust what we read, excuse my previous comment please. It was just a joke.

  4. 4 cesargon 29 October 2008 at 11:40

    No problem. 🙂 I guess the problem is that you never know what bits of information are correct and what bits are incorrect. That’s what makes it unreliable.

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