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.