Opinion: Where Were You?

The media have shown up in record numbers for the final launch of the shuttle program - the question is - why haven't they given the program the same level attention for the past three decades? Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. – For the final launch of the space shuttle era, the media has come out in full force. Tents have sprouted up all across NASA’s press site. The media has (finally) shown up in droves, but long time followers of the space program and journalists who have covered this beat shrug and shake their heads. The question being repeated over and over again is, “Where have they been and why are they showing up now?” 

Many journalists have expressed dismay as to why it is that only now the mainstream media is paying attention to the space shuttle. A recent poll on CNN asked if respondents agreed with the cancellation of the shuttle program. Here is the real question – why didn’t CNN post this seven years ago when the initial decision was made? Why is it posting it now when the final launch is about to take place? 

Some will tell you that the subject has only become interesting of late. Really? People thundering off of a launch pad with millions of pounds of explosives going off underneath them isn’t interesting each and every time it happens? Cutting edge robotics, new cures for diseases and international cooperation on a scale never even dreamed of before isn’t interesting? It isn’t news-worthy each and every time it takes place? That points to a failing not at NASA, not with anyone really – except with the media. 

We have been drowned in the morbid details of the Casey Anthony trial, about Snooki’s tanning secrets and who is the most likely to win this season’s America Idol – but when it comes to the people and the machines most likely to improve and build our future – it isn’t newsworthy? 

As the busloads of first-time arrivals finally deem Kennedy Space Center an important place to visit we should look at them with a harsh and unrelenting skepticism. Where have you been? Why are you only now showing up during STS-135? Why weren’t you here for STS-41D? Why weren’t you here for STS-61? Where were you? More importantly? Why only now are you showing up? While we can’t all be Jay Barbree (for those who don’t get the reference – look it up) but not showing up to any launch except the last? To use the parlance of the day – EPIC FAIL.

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