Supporting a Free Press

It is clear that one of the primary goals of the Trump/GOP insurrection is to deligitimize the free press in favor of right leaning partisan news outlets like Fox or OAN. Constant claims of bias and censorship have been red meat for the hard right for some time now, intensifying after the defeat of Trump and the January 6th insurrection. The Big Lie is everything to the modern GOP, repeat the lie or be forced out of the party.

Media Bias Chart from Ad Fortes Media
Media bias chart from Ad Fortes Media

Personally I find this strategy extremely offensive, to the point that anything that the GOP once professed as their platform, values I might otherwise agree with and might support, are now completely stained by this tactic. Personal freedom and responsibilty, limited government, fiscal responsibility? These classic conservative goals have become irrelevant, the ends do not justify the means.

I have realized (maybe a bit late in this game) that I should be more active in supporting a free press. In this day of shrinking newsrooms and limited news choices it has become more important than ever.

For this reason I have given myself a bit of a Christmas gift, a gift I have been enjoying for a few weeks now, a subscription to the New York Times. Reading the NYT app on my pad and phone has become part of my daily routine. Good news, along with a games section… Doing the Times mini crossword is also part of my routine, I try to do it in less than a minute with my record being 24 seconds.

No news source is perfect, the NYT does lean slightly left, maybe a bit moreso in the opinion section, but is generally rated as a high quality new source. I do supplement this with reading of both NPR and the BBC news sites, both links front and center in my home screen and regularly clicked. I got into the habit of listening to the BBC in my years of living in England, and have been a listener, or reader, ever since. The BBC gives a non US-centric view of world news I find useful.

I realize it has been a while since my last donation to our local NPR station, I need to put that on the todo list as well.

Science Illiteracy at the Star-Advertiser

We do like it when Keck Observatory is featured in the local papers. We are proud of the ‘scopes and take notice when we get some good press. The Star-Advertiser is the major daily paper for Honolulu and much of the state. I have even had some of my photographs published in the paper. Another article about Keck appeared today, but this time they simply display their ignorance of basic science.

Keck telescope helps discover 3 small planets outside Milky Way

The headline quickly had my attention. Exoplanet discoveries are coming fast with the Kepler Spacecraft / Keck Observatory team confirming alien worlds at a breakneck pace. It was the “outside the Milky Way” part that had my attention. I had no idea our current technology was capable of that! KOI-961 is a red-dwarf, a small, fairly dim class of star. It is difficult to even detect these stars at great distances, much less get the data needed to confirm orbiting planets. Something wrong here.

I double checked other sources… KOI-961 is actually fairly close to us in galactic terms, a mere 130 light years away. Given that the Milky Way Galaxy is well over 100,000 light years across, it puts KOI-961 well inside our galaxy. The article is actually reasonable, it appears to have simply taken the information from a press release, hard to screw up a cut and paste job. The headline however is where they stumbled hard.

Someone at the Star-Advertiser needs to take a basic astronomy course. Or maybe, simply check Wikipedia!

Update… They have fixed it. I forwarded the link to Larry O’Hanlon, the Keck PIO, whom I work with regularly. He called the S-A and apparently pointed out the issue. I would have loved to listen in on that conversation. The headline and text are edited now on the S-A website, but I kept a screenshot…

 

Outside the Milky Way?  Not really...
Outside the Milky Way? Not really...