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A Grief Reminder

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2 comments to A Grief Reminder

  • Re: “Although I could go off on a rant about how The Courant did a poor job of reporting and categorizing this story, I will hold off on that for perhaps another day when I talk about the ‘rag’ status of this newspaper.”

    Speaking only for myself, I couldn’t find it in my heart to give the Courant a “pass” on this. They are indeed a rag, as are any number of other media outlets who report uncritically and unthinkingly about the paranormal.

    As for the Courant, I caught them a few years ago reporting that “the ghost of Abigail Pettibone is known to haunt the upstairs of the locally famous Pettibone’s Tavern” in Simsbury. I complained to their reader representative, who agreed this was an unacceptable way to report that story. But she’s been gone for a while, so it appears no one is left their to provide any direction or correction on such matters.

    The reason why so many media outlets are jumping on “haunting” and “ghost” stories is, IMHO, three-fold: First, their ranks have been severely pared down, meaning only a small number of reporters are trying to provide material to publish. This means they look for, and write about, relatively “easy” stories that they can crank out quickly. Hauntings are easy to write about because there are so many ghost stories out there. (Another, very different, thing they use to create easy stories is what I call “press release journalism,” in which someone send them a press release and the reporter basically regurgitates it as a story. Quick, simple, easy for them … but not good journalism, since nothing is checked out.)

    Second, they know there are lots of readers who eat up this stuff. It grabs eyeballs, and snares hearts (and therefore minds). Galka’s story in particular yanks on people’s heartstrings. More than a story about some guy making ghost-detectors, this is about a grieved father trying to locate his ghostly daughter. The drama in this is inherent, it’s compelling to a lot of folks, so the Courant could hardly resist writing it.

    Third, they further know that the folks to whom stories like this appeal most, are also very sensitive to any skepticism, and are offended by it. If, somewhere in the story, the reporter had pointed out that this device has not been scientifically tested and is therefore not proven to detect ghosts, they will instantly be turned off and irked over it. They may go elsewhere for their news … even if only for that day. The impulse not to offend is very strong. Since, in the US there are many more believers in the paranormal than there are skeptics, the Courant is more worried about offending “true believers” than they are about offending skeptics.

    Pandering to society’s lowest common denominator — which is what the “hauntings as news” motif really is — is not something the media ought to be proud of. They do it nevertheless, and they will continue to do it, even knowing it’s wrong. Skeptics cannot, and should not, give them a “pass” on the matter. It needs to be pointed out whenever it happens. Silence is consent, and I for one do not consent to be treated like an idiot by some lazy reporter who’s desperate to crank out a quick and easy story.

    P.S. Pettibone’s in Simsbury is now Abigail’s, named for its supposed ghost. While it’s not cheap, it is good.

  • DLC

    Is this blog even being contributed to anymore ?

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