[Taxacom] Fwd: Nature needs names: 60 new dragonflies from Africa

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Fri Dec 11 19:38:20 CST 2015

>And really, Stephen? You think that drawing attention to deforestation is being done by the author for their own benefit? Are you always a troll?<

Are you always naive? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.

At any rate, media coverage is a dodgy beast at the best of times. News is more about "infotainment". No doubt 60 new dragonflies are more interesting to the public than any number of tiny beetles which all look the same externally. But so what? Does anybody really think that the media coverage is going to help save the world? It isn't.


On Sat, 12/12/15, Peter Halasz <list at pengo.org> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Fwd: Nature needs names: 60 new dragonflies from	Africa
 To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
 Received: Saturday, 12 December, 2015, 2:13 PM
 "Hear they found a new weevil species
 in Washington?"
 "Oh, I don't care. I just read about the 60 new dragonfly
 species in Africa
 so I've heard enough about insects for the next month."
 This is the conversation people don't have.
 Sorry I'm new to this list and trying to follow along. What
 you're saying
 is that we should collectively hold our tongues about 60
 newly discovered
 dragonflies in Africa because someone in New Zealand
 discovered 95 new
 beetles and someone else in Hawaii discovered 74 more, and
 didn't get any
 coverage and what if someone else discovers, I don't know,
 500 new weevils
 in Washington tomorrow and the public is already so utterly
 bored of
 hearing about insects because they were oversaturated by
 that African
 dragonfly story they glossed over in a newspaper the other
 day that the
 newspapers refuse to print the weevil story? What? Sorry?
 There is more than a single new media outlet. Local media
 outlets will be
 more interested in local discoveries. Media about species
 discoveries is
 NOT limited to a single twitter feed or hashtag, and it
 would be awful if
 it were. Not every media outlet is being asked to report on
 every global
 discovery. Media outlets around the world could easily
 accommodate every
 one of those three new species per day and it would be a
 drop in the ocean
 of all the world's media coverage. The limiting factor is
 not news space or
 journalists, it's entomologists who have interesting stories
 to tell about
 their discoveries and who can tell those stories in an
 engaging way. The
 more stories that get out there, the more news outlets will
 be encouraged
 to pursue similar stories.
 I don't see why there's such an effort here to minimize the
 discovery or to
 shun the news coverage or to require some kind of ranking of
 the most
 significant discoveries before the media is allowed to hear
 about it. It's
 utterly counter productive and pointless.
 I'm sorry that dragonflies are more popular than beetles,
 even if to an
 entomologist "This dragonfly publication is essentially no
 different to any
 other taxonomic publication", I'm sorry, but to the rest of
 the world 60
 new brightly coloured dragonflies are more interesting than
 600 brown
 beetles. Regardless of their relative merits, that's no
 reason to not
 communicate with the public. Do as much science
 communication as possible.
 Leave it to journalists to decide what is and is not worth
 printing and
 what their audience might engage with. Stop having these
 conversations in your head about how people read the news.
 And really, Stephen? You think that drawing attention to
 deforestation is
 being done by the author for their own benefit? Are you
 always a troll?
 Peter Halasz
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 Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
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