Friday, May 27, 2022

UFO Faux Journalism

UFO Faux Journalism

I'm not a journalist. I write about stuff I find interesting.
     Journalism is a profession consisting of skilled investigators and reporters. Many are educated in its disciplines, although its protocols are often undermined by hobbyists. I think calling myself a journalist would devalue the work invested and dues paid by those who earned the title through years of college and employment. I just like to conduct research and then write about my findings, and I have been fortunate enough to be able to spend some time pursuing the pastime.

The UFO subculture blurred the lines between not only professional journalists and amateur reporters, but also
Jack Brewer
By Jack brewer
The UFO Trail
between journalists and what are more accurately described as UFO promoters. It's been happening and morphing for decades. Such promoters become enmeshed with their subjects of interest and even seem offended at times if they are not discussed as primary parts of the stories.

In recent years and months in (what we might generously call) ufology, numerous self-styled journalists cropped up to assist the usual UFO promoters in making an absolute mess of anything that may have ever held any resemblance to objective reporting. This happens through a combination of shortcomings. Make no mistake, the sometimes sincere yet unequipped self-styled journos are manipulated in some instances. They lack the skills and tools they need to navigate increasingly complex situations. This can result in folding to the noise of the crowd and those who push them hardest. They typically have minimal mentorship and what little they get is often low quality.

In other circumstances they're more willingly coerced, hoovering up and disseminating talking points they're given by what they perceive to be movers and shakers. Some simply don't care about accuracy and have any number of ulterior motives, ranging from believing ends justify means regarding their beloved Disclosure to their quest for heightened community status that results from "attaboys" gifted from those movers and shakers. If you're thinking that sounds a lot like a cult, you're right. It should also be noted there are actual journalists who often don't fare a whole lot better when caught between UFO storytellers, deadlines, and their needs to get work published. A lot of rationalizing goes on.

I do not consider myself a journalist. I do however, respect and observe standards recognized by the professional research community. I try my best to remain in the framework of those standards, citing sources as applicable and obtaining comment as I think adds value to my offerings. This has guided me through some 12 years of blogging and two self-published nonfiction books.

For what my opinion may or may not be worth, I think the two dynamics described below are primary reasons current UFO "journalists" are following in the long tradition of failure forged before them. These dynamics are not new to the genre by any means, but various aspects of technology and current day circumstances indeed further aggravate the dysfunction. UFO reporters fail to produce quality work when:

- They mistakenly try to be friends with the subjects of their interviews and research, and

- Online screennames and concealed identities create an environment in which they don't know who they are talking to from one interaction to the next.

We will explore these two dynamics further below.

Some UFO writers and podcasters get the idea that building a following must be contingent on being well liked. This goes hand in hand with wanting access to inside info and juicy gossip; it only seems to stand to reason you'll get more news tips and eyes on your work if people like you.

Unfortunately for them, this may well be the easiest type of person to manipulate. I often wonder if they're aware they transitioned from reporting to acting as someone's mouthpiece, and if they identify a particular point in time it happened.

Some of the manipulators are much more skilled than your average bear at transferring their talking points into someone else's platform. They may approach writers and podcasters in overly friendly manners, making it challenging to hold boundaries. They may then express disappointment and suggest they were hurt by the way a writer framed their statements or how a show host described their actions.

Is that gaslighting? You bet your ass it's gaslighting. They'll have you apologizing for accurately quoting them if you let them.

Another tool in their bag is dumping "off the record" remarks all over your inbox when you specifically requested comment for inclusion in a blogpost or book. In at least some instances, this is a direct attempt to influence your framing of a story without taking public responsibility for their statements: They are trying to persuade you to champion a cause but do not go on record for the simple reason they cannot prove the legitimacy of the tale they're selling. They want you to take the heat for it and be left babbling about how you can't tell anyone how you know it's true.

To the less experienced, I recommend bringing such exchanges back to focusing on comments to be published, and the sooner the better. You are outright being enrolled as an emotional support person or confidant without your permission, and in direct contradiction to the role in which you defined and presented yourself, a writer impersonally seeking comment for publication.

It is simple manipulation. Recognize it, label it, and act accordingly.

Research and investigations should prioritize accuracy. We should seek to support or refute a given point. It's not personal. Keep it that way.


Online discourse, research communities, and virtually every other aspect of internet interactions in the UFO subculture is in a state of dysfunctional paralysis. A leading reason is we simply do not know who we're talking to from one interaction to the next. This virtually cripples podcast hosts who rely heavily on social media for interacting with potential guests, as well as researchers who make themselves available for a variety of purposes.

Let's say Podcaster A invites you to their show to discuss your take on the UFO research climate. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, how do you know they're not one of those anonymous trolls that posted an inappropriate and vulgar photoshop of someone's profile pic? And how sure are you they're not one of those people sending you unsolicited direct messages, asking you what you think about 'this' or 'that' about one person or issue or another? And why do people that just want to discuss this or that have to hide who they are?

If you consider yourself a researcher and you're not willing to post your identity at an online venue, maybe you shouldn't be dabbling at that venue. Maybe it's more than you bargained for and you should give that more consideration. What does someone honestly think yet another anonymous voice can functionally contribute to this mess in a research capacity? If they feel their employment, community status, or similar circumstance prohibits them from sharing who they are, there's a pretty good chance they shouldn't be mixing it up with spooks and sociopaths who congregate to UFO websites in the first place.

Moreover, screennames and hidden identities stand in direct contradiction to the very research process certain individuals and venues claim to pursue. In my personal experience, I considered publishing my real name to be part of making the decision to launch this blog in 2010. I did not see how I could undertake the things I intended to do without offering such a show of good faith. There are exceptions to what I have described here, but they are not the rule, and they certainly do not apply to people operating god only knows how many accounts to hide behind across multiple websites. We should all be sincere enough to differentiate between the spirit of rules and their intentional misuse and exploitation.

The bottom line is aspects of the UFO research community have largely paralyzed themselves again, as has always been the case. The means and technologies evolve, but self-styled reporters frequently find ways to waste time and attention instead of presenting meaningful material. That's no coincidence. It's likely in some instances by design and intentional manipulation, often to distract you from the fact promises of forthcoming revelations and claims of paradigm-shifting knowledge remain so utterly unfulfilled and empty.

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