I was not too involved in the PR stuff done for Linheraptor, but after previous experiences with the press (and in the light of this recent, and superb, article) I am interested and intrigued as to just how these stories get circulated and written up to appear in the media. As before, there seemed to be several errors that were introduced early on (and it’s really not clear how) by some newsies which were then replicated and / or added to in subsequent generations of stories. Muller’s ratchet seems to apply to science journalism.
- The main photo of the cast of Linheraptor was said to be the original specimen by just about everyone, even by those who I e-mailed the photo to directly, telling them it was a cast, and not the original.
- Similarly, this photo was credited to the Journal Zootaxa in which the paper appeared and not me who took the image. This is odd, since again, I sent out the image saying I took it, and with a copy of the paper in which said photo obviously does not appear.
- While losing out here, happily I was credited with creating the life reconstruction that Matt van Rooijen did for us despite him having signed it, and his name appearing in all the source information sent out the media.
- The American Jonah Choiniere and British (admittedly via Hong Kong) Mike Pittman were credited as being Chinese students in at least one source too.
- The new taxon was described as being the nearest relative of Velociraptor, despite the fact that this is explicitly not what the paper says and several people even lifted quotes directly from the paper saying this was not the case.
- Finally (of the things I have spotted and am bothering to list here, I can’t help but rather suspect there are a few more out there) apparently we were able to tell this was a new dromaeosaur because of the shape of the raptorial claw which is nonsense.
You do wonder how some of these people continue to keep hold of a job. All they seem to do is recycle each others words incorrectly and somehow make a career of it. Nice work if you can get it, but since no one else seems to realise they are doing it badly, it carries on. Really how hard is it to copy someone’s name from an e-mail into an article, or check all of 2 figures in the paper to see that they are different from the photo in front of you. And when the correct information is available in the paper, in the press release and as an online resource, why are you copying from third and fourth hand sources in the first place? Really, I want to know. How are they doing this? ‘Pushed for time’ doesn’t really cut as an excuse when you are only writing 200 words or are 3 days behind everyone else on the story.