Media dumb down the news with ‘bug expert’

It’s no surprise, I’m sure, that I have another gripe about the media. And this time, “nit-picking” may be a particularly appropriate term. Everywhere you turn, you hear about the Casey Anthony murder trial, and if you’ve paid any attention at all, you’ve probably heard a reference to a “bug expert.”

Reporters everywhere are referring to the testimony of the “bug expert.” It’s as though none of them knows or can pronounce the word “entomologist.” Or maybe, even more distressingly, they are once again dumbing down the news so the most ignorant audience can understand. Another “teachable moment” (I hate that term) lost. Why can’t they aspire to educating the audience just a little bit?

I probably learned in high school biology that a scientist who studies insects is an entomologist. And in this case, Dr. Neal Haskell is a forensic entomologist. Or, for the defense, there’s Dr. Tim Huntington, also a forensic entomologist.

Would it kill reporters to give these scientists their due and at the very least refer to them as entomologists instead of “bug experts”? Unless, of course, they are taking sides and deliberately trying to denigrate the testimony of one or the other of these witnesses.



Categories: Law, Media, Sci Tech, Writing

Tags: ,

5 replies

  1. Now that’s funny!

    One regrettable possibility is that biology isn’t a prerequisite in Journalism School and the word “entomologist” has never been heard in either a classroom OR a newsroom.

    • Can’t speak to J-school requirements today, but when I went through in the early 1960s, we had to take at least two semesters of everything — history, government, economics, biological sciences, social sciences, math, etc., in addition to the actual journalism courses. Some old curmudgeon must have thought journalists needed a broad foundation.

  2. That actually makes a lot of sense. Especially for News Reporters who might find themselves interviewing or preparing a report on almost any subject. However… based on what I see on TV, I’m betting your curriculum was more varied than todays.

"Whether it's the best of times or the worst of times, it's the only time we've got." ~ Art Buchwald

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