The Third Way for Space Journalism

Note, this text was originally posted as a comment on Rob Coppinger’s Hyperbola blog at flight international.

I hope there was more expansion in the “third way” for space journalism, at the moment it’s more like the big professional publications relaying NASA and ESA etc PAOs and company press releases, while blogs and forums are pushing snark and rumors (mostly false, but there are technical people there that help checking that at least some).

Not being entirely fair here, but it’s easier to describe it so briefly without nuances.

There are sources that are not official that can still be used, which if reasonably verified (signed documents, court evidence class are the ultimate of course, but there are lesser things) are much better than rumors. That’s the job of the journalist to investigate and not just propagate press releases. Watergate happened because of strong journalists driving for the truth to be uncovered. Aviation Week wasn’t used to be called Aviation Leak for nothing etc etc… I don’t mean you’re not doing investigations, just that there should be much more of it, and more resources being put into it too.

There are more things besides Ares or human-rated EELV:s.

What about the Galileo satnav farce? (And I don’t mean the traditional US vs EU stance taken.) How could EADS buy SSTL? There are probably tons of people inside the program, both on the industry and on the government side, just wanting to get their stuff known. Incompetence, corruption, shameless narrow self interest driving, etc. there is that like in every industry… Once again, a journalist gatekeeper with a good sense of the problem needs to make this all heard, otherwise it just goes into either silence or an anonymous rumor mill, loads of unverifiable claims and mud slinging. For democracy to work, the media is extremely important. Government and EU procuring is a very obscure process to the voters.

Mainstream space journalism is too kind. On the other hand, many forums and blogs are too snarky and amateurish.

There needs to be enough investigation to uncover the dirty secrets and there needs to be technical competence to understand what the issues are. That’s the third way for space journalism. Real investigation and criticism to the point.

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