In Wine And Journalism, Context Is Everything

55

Gewurztraminer is an interesting grape that most people think is German but actually originated in northern Italy. For those who have not had the pleasure, it’s an intensely fruity white with a floral nose and pronounced lychee and maybe a little peach or nectarine on the palate. I happen to love it so when we first started our little wine enterprise it was near the top of my list.

Like most new wineries, we had to find out how good we were so we went to a lot of tasting events, and among those was a gigantic food and beverage show in Vancouver. Things had been going reasonably well, with plenty of positive feedback and some gentle criticisms, when a woman approached my booth and asked, in a heavy French accent, for a taste of the Gewurz.

The French don’t typically like that style of wine, but it’s a big world out there and I poured the sample with the confidence that an afternoon of complimentary comments will build. She got an almost indescribable look of first shock and then horror and spat my beautiful Gewurz on the floor. In 22 years, it stands out as the rudest thing anyone has done in reaction to our business.

These days, when people at the wine counter give me the look that says their taste buds have been violated by one of my creations, they are often apologetic as I point out the little stainless steel dump bucket we keep for those thankfully rare occasions.

Since an embarrassed customer is generally not a free-spending one, I try to put them at ease with this quip. “I’ve been a journalist for 40 years and a winemaker for 20,” I soothe. “You just don’t get a thicker skin than that.”

I’ve come to believe that over the years, but I have to admit that an incident with last Wednesday’s Flash took a nick out of that armor. Lest I start wallowing in the delicious mud pit of self-pity that seems a popular way of avoiding responsibility for one’s transgressions these days, allow me to say my feelings were hurt.

Wine is an intensely personal choice for our customers but with the exception of the lady in Vancouver, I’ve never had overt rudeness over my attempts to coax greatness from the humble grape. But as I navigate the often muddy waters of modern journalism, I’ve discovered that judgment comes quickly and harshly in a trade that has always had a rough and tumble nature. Neither winemaking nor journalism is for the faint of heart.

I got my start in journalism with a hard-nosed British trained city editor who was not above flinging office supplies and equipment at reporters who strayed even slightly from the time-honored principles and traditions of the trade, of which throwing staplers and kicking garbage cans is apparently entrenched. Among the hardest things to learn, particularly back then, was headline writing.

A good headline should be short and snappy and should also draw attention to the story without giving too much of it away. In those days headlines also had to fit the column space above the galleys of type below, with the bottom line being identical in length to, or no more than a character or two longer than, the top line. More office objects flew in response to bad headlines than just about anything else.

Headline writing is a lot easier these days because graphics software makes getting the headline to “fit” much more straightforward. Still, there is some agonizing over the content of headlines. The headline over a story about a plane crash tragedy in Alaska was not one of those. The words leapt immediately from the keyboard and it was on to the next thing.

That headline became one of the most hotly debated topics on the page last week and to me it’s a prime example of how the internet has changed the craft.

The headline, No Pilots Aboard Taylorcraft That Crashed In Alaska, was criticized because some readers felt duped by it. They thought the story was about a runaway airplane. Instead it was about a crash in which the two occupants apparently had no formal pilot training and were not certificated. The commenters said by manipulating the controls at least one of the occupants became a pilot.

Under normal circumstances, I probably would have just added the word “Certificated” to the headline and moved on. But one of the commenters called the headline “clickbait” and it annoyed the hell out of me. Clickbait, the practice of enticing readers to click on a story with a headline that greatly distorts or outright misrepresents the content of the story, is the very antithesis of what we try to do here.

So I took a second look at it and dug in my heels. It was a simple matter of semantics, I argued, and I provided backup from two dictionaries supporting my thesis that pilots are trained and certificated and that the assignment of pilot is a title and not a role. I cited some examples to bolster the position and enjoyed the debate.

But some commenters took offense and wanted the words to mean what they thought they should mean and not what I was saying they actually meant. I dug in harder but my argument fell apart when a commenter pointed out that drivers are called that whether they have a license or not. I changed the headline with a mea culpa to the astute reader. That should have been the end of it but it wasn’t.

I was going through my normal checks for items of interest the next day and came across a Facebook group that had flagged the story and was whipped into a fury about it and how such irresponsibility should be rewarded with an exodus from our site. What struck me was the righteous venom of the commenters on this other site, as if I had intentionally violated their notion of what responsible media coverage constitutes.

I found it fascinating that commenters opined that I must be overly influenced by watching both CNN and Fox News. The underlying theme was that I was intentionally spreading misinformation, and some suggested we had become an information source to be avoided.

My point here is that it in today’s media environment there is a role to be played by readers in maintaining some kind of balance in the coverage that I think we all want in this arcane little corner of the world. Readers now have the ability to choose media sources that match their worldview and therefore have enormous power to influence the perception of media coverage. They have as much responsibility to ensure their criticism is accurate as we do in presenting the news. The rush to judgment in branding us as purveyors of clickbait was as unfair as it was unwarranted.

As for the French lady, I burst out laughing as her sample hit the floor and she immediately recovered her composure to explain. In Europe, Gewurztraminer is finished as a sweet wine, sometimes very sweet. This was the flavor my sampler was expecting as she raised the little glass. When the off-dry style that is preferred in North America hit her taste buds, her first impulse was that the wine had gone bad so she got rid of it ASAP.

We shared a laugh and she continued the tasting, complimenting me on some wines and politely avoiding commenting on others. We parted on good terms. I’m sure she retells the story as much as I do. But if we hadn’t taken the extra step of trying to understand each other’s position, we likely both would have left that exchange with a sour taste in our mouths.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

55 COMMENTS

  1. Hilarious article, Russ! You dodged a wine-spewing French lady and an internet firestorm – all in a week’s work! On the “pilot” debate, dictionary to the rescue! On the wine thing, no jet fuel for the French ladies.

  2. Thanks for the post – I think it’s well-known for those who frequent the site that click bait is not part of Avweb’s play. This is a flying geek’s site and very few outside this realm frequently visits – which means that my guess is that Avweb gets a pretty steady stream of clicks regardless of the story or headline – in sure there are some stories that crest and others that don’t. In my opinion click bait headlines are easy to spot as they are piquing your curiosity as in ‘see what fruits the Mayans avoided in treating Lymes disease” – clearly you need to click to learn this- I frequent BBC News website a lot and the sections below the headlines are all clickbait –
    Those of us who read your articles every day kinda know what to expect and wouldn’t think you’re pulling a fast one – I would have stuck k with my initial guns but good on ya for taking the grown up path and squelch a non-issue. I’m flummoxed by the energy we spend being so outraged. That’s too bad. Thanks for all you do on this site!

  3. Russ: Not click-bait, as any *intelligent* person would immediately understand once the circumstances of the story were understood (by reading it, obvs). Actually, by your definition of a ‘good headline’, it was perfect – and most importantly – *true* (something your definition missed but perhaps taken for granted – assuming one also agrees that a ‘pilot’ is a trained one, and not just a goat having an epileptic fit in front of the controls). So, worry not.
    Moving on… Being English, born and bread (tho briefly shown the ‘dark side’ by being obliged to spend a few years as a child in Australia – and now living in the Hebrides), it comes as no surprise to learn of your wine-taster’s lack of appreciation for your efforts in Vancouver. She was French. What on Earth would you expect?
    Meanwhile, Gewurztraminer remained my father’s favourite variety until his death at 98 having acquired a taste for it whilst serving in the RAF in Allied-occupied Germany just after WWII. I like it, too!

  4. I saw the first couple of heated replies about the headline. With a quick read of them I spent about 0.02 seconds feeling the emotion of… sadness? Pity? I don’t really know. I was grateful, that was it. I was grateful that I had things more engaging and fruitful to worry about than semantics of a headline of an article that took 1 minute to read. Russ, all I can say is don’t feed the trolls. If someone has that much of an issue with their free news service delivered right to their inbox, I’m sure they can go find it somewhere else. The silent majority read the article and moved on, clarity of headline be damned.

  5. LOL Once I read your explanation for the headline, it made perfect sense and I was on to the next article. It’s amazing how some people feel compelled to crank up their own emotionalized outrage, ref. Fakebook group.

  6. It obviously bothered you, Russ, and I’m sorry about that. But it certainly didn’t bother the vast majority of your intended audience, so I hope you will quickly forget about it. Soldier on!

  7. Admittedly, I didn’t catch the story with the headline in question. Must have missed it. So, this is my first time reading it as it was presented. For me (the reader), I took it to mean exactly the way it was intended – that none of the occupants on board were certificated. It seems to me that it is not so much the level of context that matters as much as knowing your audience. You have a reasonable expectation that your primary audience is going to be aviators, at least to some degree. It appears that the gangster commenters were nothing more than lay people with an axe to grind. Which, frankly, is a direct reflection of our North American society nowadays. People, especially youthful and less mature people, not only want and expect instant gratification but they also read (and listen) more and more with an involuntary intent to reply rather than to understand.

  8. I am one of those readers who was unhappy after reading an article that I was expecting to be about an “unoccupied” plane crash but I resisted the urge to comment. While I very rarely comment (this is only my second or third time commenting an article in many years of reading), I do enjoy reading the comments as much as I enjoy reading the article because the comments sometimes give me an unrealized beneficial or learning view concerning the article. This article is very much like those comments that give me a beneficial view. After reading this article I fully agree with your position and offer my own mea culpa.

  9. Good articles – both! Not click bait but rather a headline that captures your attention, revealing the interesting facts.

    Gewurztraminer is indeed from northern Italy originally, which itself was originally part of the Austohungarian empire, hence the Germanic name!

    Love your work, hang tough.

  10. Russ, on encountering this piece I:

    1. Parsed the headline as meaning ‘unoccupied’.

    2. Read the first paragraph, adjusted my understanding, and finished the article.

    3. Went on with my life.

  11. Context *does* matter and in today’s instantaneous mode of reacting, people take less and less time to consider context. It becomes a “rush to print” attitude even in commenting. Social media has not been helpful to society overall, but it won’t go away so we deviate around the worst of the cells.

    For my 2 cents, I did not pay that much attention to the Headline, because when I first looked at the photo, I for a moment thought it was a 2 dimensional piece of art on a sidewalk or something. It took a moment more to realize it was a plane, upside own in shallow water. I went into the article then under the premise, how did a plane wind up upside down in shallow water.

    Not till the comments, no, the negative comments to your headline that I went back and really saw the headline, but by then the damage was done. I had the context and though it did not matter to me overall, I tended to agree with you.

    When a word has two meanings (hell even one that is interpreted) inevitably some will see it one way, some another so like that one reader pointed, you can be a pilot but also you can be piloting an airplane. I could posit that only a pilot “Pilots” an aircraft and one with no certificate is merely controlling it, either to a safe landing or to one upside down in shallow water. More? There are harbor *Pilots* that pilot a vessel in and out of a harbor with the Captain or Master just an observer. A Master bringing a vessel into a harbor could be piloting his vessel but typically would be referred to as maneuvering his vessel in harbor.

    Great article, both times. A long long time reader of Avweb, I will not care a wit about a headline being “clickbait”, only that the content be factual and well written.

    • And how often is that pilot, captain or master the one steering the ship? Or is the helmsman doing that?

  12. I always hated people that read the news only based in their title (or only reading the titles), not for adquiring knowledge, but to speak about the “news” (they didn’t really read) and trying to convince the others that they’re very “knowledgeable” and “intellectual” beings.
    To me, they’re only “readers ” worth of contempt.

  13. You had the headline right the first time. Being a pilot is something you earn, not the result of being at the controls. Kinda like being a journalist rather than an internet troll, both of whom write words on keyboards. Keep it up!

  14. One of the great things about the internet is that it allows us to communicate with a vast number of people. One of the worst things about the internet is that it allows us to communicate with a vast number of people…instantly, thoughtlessly, and angrily, with little understanding of what it is saying about ourselves. I pity those with anger lurking just below the surface of their calvarium and looking for someone—anyone—to bludgeon them with it. Keep up the good work, Russ. Non Illigitimi Carborundum.

  15. I would humbly suggest that the as a general comment Headlines should not be ambiguous. I took the headline to mean that the plane was unoccupied. After reading the article I quickly realized what had actually happened.

    That being said I find it sad that that the amount of vitriol this controversy generated was totally out of proportion to the actual issue.

    As a general comment I am increasingly unhappy with how quickly the comments for almost every article seem to veer into a very partisan political diatribe regardless of the actual topic under discussion.

    I wish people would just keep comments aviation related

    In that spirit I am reminded of a now sadly passed pilot friend of mine. In the late 1960’s he was a flying instructor at a small school in Dawson Creek a town in Northern Canada. One day he was sitting on the front porch of the office when he heard an airplane approaching. A Champ appeared on a very close in tight slipping turn and then touched down on the grass next to the runway in a text book 3 point landing. The engine was cut and it rolled to a stop in front of the school. The gentleman who got out of the plane then approached him and inquired about how he might receive some flying lessons…..

  16. My own contribution to the “pilot” controversy was offered in the spirit of a fun debate, but on the internet it’s rare that a fully developed debate stays in the fun category for long, no matter how inconsequential the subject!

  17. Russ, I understand your need to clarify your position on this, but sometimes it’s better to leave certain itches unscratched. But since you didn’t:
    1. The pejorative assertion of “clickbait” was inaccurate and uncalled for, but you didn’t need to rise to that bait.
    2. A lot of readers found the headline confusing and/or inaccurate for a variety of reasons, including definitions of “pilot”, and FAA-reg minutia, as a result.
    3. Your initial ambiguous headline (given space restraints) accurately reflected your copy.
    4. But it was your copy that was the real problem:
    a. Your lede established that the accident involved “two men”, the aircraft, the locale, the date, and the lack of evidence of FAA credentials. The rest of the graf fleshes out the identities of the victims, the specific location where the accident occurred, and a statement from the NTSB regarding a possible lack of pilot credentials.
    b. Your second graf raises doubts about the assertion of credentials being a causal factor in the crash in the first place, per the NTSB. Well down in that graf you get around to mentioning that the weather was lousy, and the crash site was three miles from its destination, and twenty-one miles from its departure. Did you not consider “get-there-itis” in deteriorating weather as a possible cause?

    That was why I suggested that, rather than craft a more accurate head, your first graf should have established the facts of the accident: victims, aircraft, time/date, location, and weather. Your second graf could then raise the (most likely irrelevant) issue of FAA credentials, note the state in which the plane was found, and the commentary of acquaintances.

    Then your head writes itself: “Two Men Die in Taylorcraft Accident in Alaska”. I don’t think anyone would have been confused by the (possibly irrelevant) issue of credentials.

    I’ve been flying for over sixty years, and I’ve seen many (and experienced some) weather-related accidents, and some related to inadequate training/experience, but I’ve not seen a single one that was due to inadequate pilot paperwork.

    • “Two Men Die in Taylorcraft Accident in Alaska”

      I second that. The fact that two men died is more significant than their credentials.

      • I agree “Two Men Die in Taylorcraft Accident in Alaska” would have been a better headline. I too, at first, thought another YouTuber bailed out of a plane. Reading on I understood your reasoning for no pilots on board and then your response justifying your correctness in using that description. But, as you found out, you can be factually correct but popularly incorrect. I agree with the analogy of a driver of a car without a driver’s license. They’re still driving the car. I like the fact that you’re aware of the confusion, accept it and will try to avoid it in the future. I’m sorry if your feelings were hurt. You didn’t deserve that. At no time did I think you did that intentionally for nefarious journalism purposes. I say, crack open a bottle of that Gewurz and keep giving us very well written and helpful aviation news.

  18. Don’t worry about that Facebook group. The two people who actually do avoid AvWeb as a result were probably on their way out, and will be more than made up for by curious folks who discover and enjoy AvWeb when they come to see what all the fuss is about.

  19. Reading AvWeb articles and the comments regularly you get to know the folks posting comments as much as the writer writing them. The source of the information is as important (sometimes more) as the information itself.

    When the national media starts publishing Aviation articles I patiently wait for AvWeb’s writers to research and write on the topic. For example, I believe the complicated Boeing controversy is covered better here then anywhere else. The people commenting on the topic are enlightening also.

    Student Pilots are called Pilots. The person occupying the left seat may have been a Student Pilot. Just not with a current CFI endorsement? Whatever…. There’s “Teasers” and “Clickbait” fine line in between. And I’ll have a Merlot :).

  20. So… I surmise that in both viticulture and journalism, you need a thick skin and the flexibility of a yoga instructor on a trampoline. A steel helmet would help!

  21. As you say Russ, “A good headline should be short and snappy and should also draw attention to the story without giving too much of it away.”

    I’ll confess also to having begun the read thinking it was a story about an unoccupied airplane crash only to realize it wasn’t. My first impulse was that you had over teased the story with your headline. My second impulse was to grant you the grace to over tease now and then, particularly knowing that I can be overly critical of journalists and have been with you a time or two, Russ. Thank you for engaging your readership the way you have done in this case.

    As I recall, my short response to the story addressed one similarity which the J3 and the Taylorcraft have in common, namely their mutual ability to “just barely kill” their occupants. And mere occupants they were as you point out. No non-certificated occupant of an airplane is a pilot whether or not they are or have been at the controls.

    As for the French, they have reason to be proud of their language, culture and wine, but they don’t have reason to be rude or conceited. I speak a Parisian French but can easily be intimidated into speaking English with French natives simply knowing that they would much rather abuse English than to risk hearing me come close to abusing French.

    Finally, life is good, and airplanes and flying them are also good – too good to be at each others’ throats.

    A votre santé

    • Time to reflect on things learn’t is fundamentally important. As to what’s happening with the Okanagan wine situation this year, Perhaps the sage advice of Comrade Lenin can be of help: “come the revolution comrade, a chicken in every pot!” Pull out some of those vines and develop “Okanagan Grilled Chicken.”

  22. Bless you, Russ. I feel your pain. I too started in the journalism world when headlines had to be moderately descriptive and fit in the available space. In J school we were taught the headline’s job was to get the reader to stop and read the story. Period. Full stop. The headline did have to be accurate and truthful. Bonus points for clever. Deductions for overly clever.
    I too thought it was an unoccupied airplane, which is what got me to read the story. So the headline did its job. You quickly explained the rest of the story and I got it and moved on. Others should do the same.
    Keep up the good work and try to ignore the trolls, as difficult as that may be.

  23. It’s about debate vs prejudice. But I get it : clickbait annoys the hell out of me too, there is so much of it we don’t have time to dwell and immediately judge the source eternally unworthy. Society has moved to that immediate all-or-nothing in many areas. Me too. Obviously Russ and Avweb deserve better, but got caught in the storm. I’m not so much worried about the initial triggerhappy reader, and I have a feeling Avweb has a loyal enough audience. Is there a solution : I feel a “report clickbait” button is overdue on Youtube for example, that’s just the worst. Any content provider with too many “clickbait” alerst his clip visual will be replaced by a random screenshot from the posted video. Measures like that would lessen the occurence of clickbait, and hence alleviate the ‘triggerhappy’ state readers find themselves in to a more trusting demeanour.

  24. Absolutely, Tom. You’ are correct. While accuracy is essential in journalism, sometimes it’s best to move on. Even if a headline is vague, the main focus should be on the article’s content. In my 75 years of reading the “funnies,” headlines haven’t always been perfect, like “Dewey Defeats Truman,” but the articles still offered valuable insight. However, journalists should attempt for clear and accurate headlines to avoid confusing readers. Laisser tomber! (I Googled that. It’s French for “Let it go!” or something like that.)☮️

  25. You did it AGAIN here, Russ. I thought sure you were gonna say that you were drunk on wine when you wrote the headline of that article! 🙂
    Not!
    Actually, as several commenters here have said, you coulda done a better job by choosing a slightly different slant on the article but … so what. You ain’t perfect; once in a while you miss the target … doesn’t mean you’re now into ‘click bait.’ That a few people got vociferous over it and threatened to stop reading Avweb is both sad and ridiculous. Reading the comments to the many daily articles is — in itself — educational for me. I add MY two cents, others add theirs and that’s that. And the regulars here sorta get to know each other, too.
    Overall, you’re slowly coming around to PB quality … and I judge that by the comment count. Keep up the great work! As someone said … don’t let the bastards wear ya down!

  26. Airplanes frequently fly with no pilots aboard. They may be occupied by people with FAA certificates in their pocket, some of them flight instructors, and some doing it hire. What they have in common is that through poor attitude or lack of ability, they have no business operating an airplane.

  27. At first glance, I was also slightly confused by the headline; BUT;
    After reading the article, I agreed with the headline;
    There were indeed, no Pilots in the aircraft!
    Someone who somehow manipulates the controls of an aircraft, causing it to move, is not a Pilot!
    Someone who puts a bandage on someone’s finger, is not a Doctor!
    Someone who writes a comment such as this is not a Journalist!

  28. Good piece, Russ. As Persian carpetmakers say when they deliberately weave a small mistake into every rug, only Allah is perfect 🙂

  29. Sorry to hear about all that Russ. Thanks for what you do. I look forward to your writing each AM and a cup of coffee. The vast majority seem to enjoy your writing and keep coming back. I learned long ago you can’t make everyone happy no matter what you do and that seems especially to be true in what you do.

    As mentioned, in general conversation there is some uncertainty in what is meant by “pilot” is, whether it is a certified person or just the manipulator of the controls, but I agree with the definition. When I read the headline, I initially wasn’t certain whether there was no one at the controls, or given that it was Alaska, the possibility that they were never certified or that they’d lost their license. I didn’t give it a second thought when I found out it was the latter. I wouldn’t lose any sleep about any of this.

    I have a good friend that has a job similar to yours, though, and he is constantly upset about such things. Just know that the vast majority of us appreciate what you do.

  30. Headline or no headline, where can I get my hands on a bottle or two of your Gewurz? Hard to find in the mid-west and I love it.

  31. After reading all the comments here (two cups of coffee worth) I can only say how great it has been to read thoughtful and respectful comments, something that has been in short supply on Avweb for some time.

  32. Mr Niles;

    So sorry to hear that reaction to your headline caused you disquiet. But it was a truly poor headline.

    That said – I read the story as virtually everyone else did – thinking the aircraft was devoid of human habitation. Aircraft without any human control are of particular interest to me as I once experienced a very expensive occurrence of this. I expected the old story of a hand propped plane getting away and flying for a while by itself. As such the headline was quite misleading.

    But I don’t for a minute think it was intentional. Nor do I support those who reacted other than charitably. But it was a bad headline.

    The Oxford English Dictionary includes no reference to certification in their definition of pilot. As they are arguably the gatekeepers to “The King’s English” I’d say your attempt to disqualify the poor unfortunates in that plane from “pilot” fails. One or both of them was indeed a pilot. Possibly incompetent, definitely dangerous, but a pilot none the less.

    But don’t let it get you down. Folks are mean out here in interweb land. You don’t have to please anyone but you. I know how it is to look at something and think no one would ever take that any way other than the way I intended. So I sympathize. But one thing I’ve learned from this – and I hope you learned too – is that if there’s another way to perceive something than what I think is obvious, someone is going to perceive it that way. And in the case of the internet – probably a lot of folks. Chin up buckaroo. The vultures come from everyone. It’s nothing personal.

  33. Bill, your comment exemplifies the pinnacle of constructive criticism, perfectly balanced with empathy and support. Your insightful counsel on Mr. Niles’ headline and its broader implications is a beacon of wisdom. Like Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” I can only imagine Mr. Niles’ overwhelming gratitude and how he must feel eternally indebted to your kind words. It’s personal now! Just don’t expect a statue in your honor. 😊

  34. I have never traveled to Alaska, but I am told that there are a lot of “unlicensed pilots” shall we say in Alaska. It is the wild west in every possible way, and sometimes aircraft is the only way to access some of the remote communities. Perhaps that is part of the reason for the backlash on your article. A prevailing “we dont need no stinking FAA” attitude. Even teenage kids flying aircraft with no formal training. Just what I heard, for what its worth. Anyway, I liked your article and the followup. Keep up the good work.
    Bill Weedon CFI/MEI/CFII KOQU-RI

  35. Avweb, you have earned our respect over the years. Please take more pride in that. Let’s face it, this (and every) website has limited staff and needs content 24×7, so it’s clear that a significant portion of Avweb’s content is sourced from news services which triggered an alert in their inbox. The problem is that these up-sources are often inaccurate or taken verbatim from a press release, and we’re seeing a pattern where they’re 80% word-for-word from that poor-quality “news” service and made into a Avweb-authored story without due diligence to verify.

    Don’t take my work for it, grab any paragraph from any Avweb story on eVTOL and copy it and paste it into Google, you’ll see hundreds of hits which have coincidentally the same paragraph word-for-word, since there’s hundreds of other news sites, local news, etc. which are in the same bind in the current info-starved world.
    That’s fine for all these other junk sites, but not for our Avweb, please! There has been great original content from Avweb over the years, and I and others hold it in high regard, but it’s sad that we are still getting a ton of these low signal/noise ratio copy/paste “news stories”, “written” under the byline of a real life, generally well regarded folk at Avweb. By associating themselves with poor quality content, and not doing the reality-check they damage Avweb’s well earned reputation.
    For example, that story last week:
    “Congress Approves $240 Million To Promote Flight Deck Diversity – A measure tucked into the latest FAA Reauthorization will establish a pool of $240 million to lower the cost of flight training and expand the pool of prospective candidates. ”

    The problem was, this was not true. None of it. There never was any $240 for any flight training, and none of it was specifically earmarked for diversity. Avweb simply quoted an inaccurate Yahoo Finance article which quoted a senator’s proposed (and not accepted) amendment. Why would anyone think Yahoo was a real source? Is is 1998?
    Anyone who can spend 15 minutes to read the final FAA reauth law PL 118-63 language could see that there was not much of any change from the previous FAA reauth Sec 625. But since no one at Avweb did their homework to call BS, everyone got riled up FOR NO REASON and the results in the comments were simply ugly. Instead of correcting the story, even when the errors were pointed out, they just let the mob go wild confirming every horrible stereotype of our community.

    Likewise, every eVTOL story is a cntl-C/cntl-V from a press release. Again, if this was NOT a great site like Avweb, I’d expect that low effort, but please, we know you can do better. Last week:
    “‘Midnight’ Developer Archer Achieves FAA Part 135 Certification –
    Electric Vertical Takeoff and Land (eVTOL) developer Archer Aviation announced today (June 5) it has receive its FAA Part 135 Air Carrier and Operator certificate. This allows the company to legally operate its aircraft, including the developmental Midnight model, “for hire.””

    Ok, I assume that people at Avweb are smart, so they must know that this Midnight model doesn’t exist in certified form yet, right? They must know that you can’t have a Part 135 operation with experimental aircraft right? They must know a Pt135 cert is tied to a specific aircraft, right? They must know that anyone can look up what aircraft are on a company’s Pt135 cert, and they can see Archer’s cert is only a single Reagan-era Beech.
    So Avweb’s fine folks should be the ones pointing out that this is not really an newsworthy accomplishment, not me, right? The story was corrected the next day to say the would use this Part 135 cert when they got a type cert for Midnight model, but again, that’s NOT TRUE EITHER. That’s not how Part 135 works, since the eVTOL as a powered lift aircraft has no operational commonality with an old single engine piston, what they submitted for the single Beech is not useful for supposedly thousands of powered lift electric aircraft. But again, doesn’t Avweb know this? Shouldn’t they be the ones pointing this out?

    And those are just in the last week .
    Do better. Please

    • Well… I understand Carl Radle’s concerns about maintaining high standards at Avweb. However, I also recognize the challenges faced by Russ Niles and his team, especially following Paul Bertorelli—a well-liked aviation journalist and a hard act to follow.

      Avweb has earned our respect over the years. While there’s always room for improvement, I believe in supporting the current team as they strive to maintain quality. I trust that Russ Niles and his colleagues are capable of doing their best, and I look forward to seeing Avweb continue to deliver reliable aviation news.

  36. In the olden days, the reporter would never write the headline — that was the sub-editor’s job.
    Just like in the olden days reporters would never sub their own copy.
    Now you get young “journalists” with Master of Journalism degrees and you have to explain what a sub-editor did and why you call “articles” copy, and why they do not automatically get a by-line for every story they rewrite from the web.
    To which I reply “articles — farticles” and throw what ever is at hand at them.
    Few stick around.

  37. “The superior man is modest in his speech but exceeds in his actions.” Confucius.

    Mirando hacia atrás, habría sido más considerado cambiar el titular después de recibir quejas de los lectores en lugar de aferrarse obstinadamente a él. Esto podría haber evitado la confusión y la reacción negativa que siguió. La historia muestra que ser flexible y receptivo a los comentarios es importante para mantener buenas relaciones y prevenir malentendidos.

LEAVE A REPLY