Mainstream Media Websites Failing to Adequately Cover end of Shuttle Era

By jason_rhian
May 15, 2010
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Mainstream Media Websites Failing to Adequately Cover end of Shuttle Era
Mainstream Media Websites Failing to Adequately Cover end of Shuttle Era

Reviewing where yesterday’s launch of space shuttle Atlantis and the crew of STS-132 ‘placed’ in regards to importance on the assorted media outlets websites provides a startling insight as to how we as a nation view manned spaceflight.

There is a disturbing trend to ‘bury’ space stories, forcing viewers to search for them. This trend is even more jarring when one realizes that today’s launch of space shuttle Atlantis – will be the last time that this orbiter will fly. Here are where the ‘big three’ cable news outlets ranked in their coverage of Atlantis’ final launch they are ordered from best to worst.

FOX News – placed this historical event front-and-center on their website. The cable news network had the story in its feature news segment including an image and slideshow. It was the only outlet to still do so a mere six hours after launch.

CNN – The top story is about a recent graduate that is about to be deported. For CNN to relegate a very historical story below a human interest story makes no sense in terms of logical scaling of stories. How an undocumented immigrant being forced to obey the law trumps one of America’s greatest achievements shows that the news outlet may be losing perspective.

MSNBC – Never should ‘Under that burqa, lipstick, high heels’ be a more important story than the final flight of a space shuttle that has flown for 25 years. How the article about what Afghan women wear under there robes was given top page – large picture treatment instead of the final flight of the space shuttle Atlantis questions the journalistic sensibilities of the organization.

To be fair, all three of the major media outlets had reporters on scene, MSNBC had Jay Barbree, who has covered the space program for 50 years, John Zarella was on scene for CNN and Phil Keating and Orlando Salinas reported on the launch for FOX News. It should be noted that most mainstream media outlets no longer have a dedicated space or science team, the most obvious example being CNN who fired long-time space reporter Miles O’Brien and cut their science and space reporting team. While MSNBC’s handling of the launch may be lacking – it is not at all surprising; the American public has allowed the relevance of the space program to pass them by. The media outlets are merely a reflection of the current values of the nation.