Casey Luskin from the IDEA Center sent the following report on a recent news story that aired on San Diego’s Fox affiliate. Amazingly, the station devoted over four minutes –an eternity in TV news time– to looking at what ID is. An MPEG of the story is available for download from the IDEA Center at http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1298. (newly updated link)
I wanted to report some good news on a small media victory we had here in San Diego yesterday. On February 28th and March 1st, the local San Diego area Fox 6 station station aired a ~6 minute segment on ID that, in my opinion, was “fair,” “balanced,” and clearly showed the strenghts of ID in the face of its critics. The funny thing is that all the segment did was simply accurately represent the views of both sides. And guess what happened when the media was fair? We came out looking like the winner!
In early January, a reporter from the local Fox 6 San Diego news station contacted me regarding a story he was doing on ID. I did a short interview with him and soon afterwards I learned that Eugenie Scott was coming to town. I told him that it probabably wasn’t in my best interests to tell him she was in town, but that she is a prominent evolution advocate and he wouldn’t want to miss her for his story. Additionally, I gave him a detailed handout on the common misconceptions people will tell about ID, as well as copies of Unlocking the Mystery of Life, and Icons of Evolution documentaries.
Although the segment started off comparing ID with creationism, and the Bible, in the end the segment dispelled the notion that ID is unscientific religion. Additionally, the segment made it clear that ID is not just an appeal to God, but a scientific approach. Amazingly, the segment even included a couple short clips from Unlocking the Mystery of Life which discussed the complexity of the flagellum! To make a long story short, this incident has taught me that being friendly, kind, and helpful to a reporter (by giving him videos, books, and personalized letters about the debate) can pay off. This reporter evidently took the materials we provided to him to heart and it showed in the accuracy of the segment.
On the down side, the segment showed Eugenie Scott (and briefly, Mark Perakh) saying ID was “creationism lite” which says that “it’s too complex and therefore God did it” and that we “circumvent” the scientific process by going straight to schools without doing any research. But the good news was that he used all of that as a foil for a variety of statements I made rebutting the “ID is creationism” or “ID = God did it” claims. Additionally segment he included segments of Dr. Tom English, a physics professor who teaches his students about ID at a San Diego area junior college, also in the segment. Finally, he even included a few brief visually-pleasing segments from Unlocking the Mystery of Life talking about the complexity of the flagellum, and how it provides evidence for ID.
Overall the segment was very satisfying. I was very happy to see that the reporter emphasized some scientific claims from ID, and made Eugenie Scott into a foil for comments about the actual nature of intelligent design. In this sense, I consider the story a decided victory for accuracy in reporting about intelligent design. I was really happy to see that the reporter accurately reported both sides of this issue. I think he gave us the last word because he recognized that we had valid answers to the objections of Scott and Perakh.
If there is any lesson to be learned from this story, it is that when you take the time to get to be kind to a reporter, and give him/her a lot of resources, and try to help him/her find good people on ALL sides of an issue, they appreciate that and it vastly increases your chances of getting a story that is more balanced and perhaps. And in this debate, “fair” and “balanced” will always mean a victory for ID. If only more reporters would be like Greg Todd.
A more detailed response to Scott can be found at “http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1298”.