It's that they seem downright dumb.
I often say "Don't attribute to malice what can be explained by simple stupidity". Take for instance the recent discovery of a new Tomb in Egypts Valley of the Kings. I was super geeked about this because I was there. I saw this with my own eyes.The news is just starting to show pictures and relate how and where the tomb was found. But in bouncing around several major news sites I am amazed at how many facts have simply been wrong.
Reuters listed the tomb as being 5 KM from King Tutankhamun's. This led me to believe that maybe the tomb was discovered somewhere else and the excavation I had seen with my own damn eyes must have been a bust. But 5KM puts the tomb outside of the Valley completely. The new tomb is actually 5 meters away. Big difference. Another story today stated that the tomb was found during excavation near the Collosi of Memnon. It is true that there is digging going on there, but the Valley is several kilometers away. The Valley is for tombs, the Collosi marked the entrance to a temple. I double checked my pic against the ones of the tomb entrance at CNN.com, sure enough its the site we were at in the Valley. They are near each other in the same way Cleveland and Akron are near each other. That is, not very.
What's worse, the CNN story used a cute interactive map. When you clicked on Luxor and the Valley, you were shown two small images, except each images shows a scene that is on the opposite side of the Nile. I know, picky picky. I'll let that one slide, but missing basic facts? It makes one wonder how many details the media gets wrong when it reports a story. All media is under pressure to get the news out fast. First in print or on the air gets the audience. But in the process they are not reporting accuratly. And the devil, dear friends, is in the details.
Consider the current bruhaha on domestic spying. It's a complex issue. There are lots of laws with lots of words in them. So when someone comes along and says "Well this is what the law means, and previous Presidents did this..." Well, that saves you a lot of time. No need to do research or think. But once again a lot of facts are getting lost.
Remember New Orleans? I know that is So twenty minutes ago. Remember the horror stories of blacks reverting to savages in the streets, rampant raping and killing? But it wasn't true. In a farcical game of telephone, one person (or reporter) hears something and passes it on. This gets embellished or confused with another possible story. The beast feeds on itself. Guesswork is reported, thus becoming fact. But it isn't the truth.
Despite instant global communication and instant access to volumes of data, we are getting incorrect information. It's up to the minute and beamed from half way around the world. But its still wrong sometimes. Maybe more often than we know.
This is not a paranoid rant about the manipulation of the media. That's a tin foil hat for another day. This is just an observation and maybe a warning.
I can't speak for the spying scandal. But I CAN speak to the facts of the tomb discovery. And there is ample proof that the New Orleans horrors never were. Given these facts, maybe we should add a grain of salt to our media diet.