Leslie Kean, UFOs, and the need for timely and responsible UFO reportingby Cherlyn Gardner Strong on Oct. 09, 2010, under Paranormal, UFOs
When Leslie Kean’s UFO book was released in August, there was some speculation by critics that Kean was simply “cashing in” on the growing popularity of the UFO topic.
After all, in July, China gained worldwide attention resulting from highly publicized UFO sightings – one of which gave cause to shut down a busy airport in Hangzhou. Additionally, the release of Kean’s book, UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go On the Record, was sitting on the New York Times Bestseller List when another UFO caused the shut down of another airport in Batou, Inner Mongolia.
I spoke with Kean on the phone in September and came to some conclusions about the speculation of those few critics.
Considering Kean’s book was the result of a ten-year research project, the critics made no sense. Paranormal topics and ufology weren’t as widely popular with the general public when she was writing the book. In fact, the release date of the book was scheduled by Random House far in advance of the “UFO craze of 2010″, as some have called it.
Another speculation I read was that Kean must be some sort of “UFO fanatic”. As someone with a lifelong interest in UFOs, I quickly found that Leslie Kean was not a kindred spirit. Although Kean had picked up and read a couple books on the UFO subject in the 1980′s, she said she was somewhat intrigued by the subject. She wasn’t deeply interested in it and had no desire to write about it.
As an independent investigative journalist, Kean contributed a feature story to the Boston Globe about UFOs in 2000. The research for this article did further pique her interest. It also raised questions in her mind. As a result, that article led to her contribution of more mainstream media articles about UFOs.
Responsible coverage, based on a rational and credible approach, is what Kean has always brought to her readers. She went further than simply reporting on the topic to bring information to the general public. By 2002, she co-founded the Coalition for Freedom of Information.
“Coalition for Freedom of Information (CFi), [is] an independent alliance advocating for greater government openness on information about UFOs, and for responsible coverage by the media based on a rational and credible approach.” – Leslie Kean’s ufosontherecord.com
In 2007, Kean co-organized a Washington DC international press conference on official UFO investigations. The conference was held three years prior to the September 27th National Press Club conference, where retired military men went on the record about UFOs and nuclear weapons.
During our conversation that took place prior to the September conference, Kean expressed her optimism that members of the media would attend the conference. Although few journalists actually ended up attending in person, the conference was widely viewed via CNN live streaming Internet coverage. It was widely reported after the conference by the mainstream media to the general public.
While on the subject of the general public, when I spoke with Kean, she spoke of what she had in mind when she started writing her book. First, the book was not geared toward UFO enthusiasts. Secondly, she said, “I wanted to present a book to a new audience that presented them with just the facts, written in a language that the new audience would understand.” The topic of UFOs is one that Kean feels that people in the general public need to know about.
Kean’s book has been received positively, but it hasn’t been well-received by everyone. MSNBC’s James Oberg wrote a highly critical article in September about it. MSNBC offered Kean space on their website for a rebuttal, which she took advantage of, and expressed much appreciation for the opportunity to do so. LiveScience quickly called the two articles the beginning of a “UFO Battle“. The speculation from LiveScience left readers waiting for a rebuttal from Oberg to Kean.
A rebuttal never came. The battle was over, just like that.
Due to Kean’s book, the UFOs in China, and the surge of interest in the UFO topic, the mainstream media have noticed the popularity of the topic. They have jumped into the topic, though in a tardy manner, thus far. The Inner Mongolia airport shutdown was covered by ABC News three weeks after bloggers originally reported the September 11th incident to their readers.
This more than three-week lag time for the Mongolia incident, was much worse than the mainstream media’s week-late reporting of the Hangzou Xiaoshan airport incident in July. The late reporting of the Xiaoshan incident in July caused other media outlets to report the date of the incident a week later than it actually occurred. The Mongolia incident in September, reported by ABC News in October, caused even more confusion for readers.
Due to the late reporting, bloggers, like myself, had to explain to our readers that the late news of the Mongolia incident was not new news, nor was it even “fresh” news, as ABC News reported it. No reason was offered about why the mainstream media took that long to report it. The only new item reported was that the Chinese government refused to comment on the incident.
That response from China is no surprise to the rest of us. There isn’t a clear answer for most of the incidents out of China. The “it was likely a plane” theory offered by Chinese UFO experts for the Xiaoshan airport incident in July is not good enough.
Airport officials should be able to identify planes, even illegally flying private planes when they order the shut down of an airport. Until the plane or the pilot are positively identified, it is still a UFO. There has been no concrete conclusion from that investigation. No explanation was ever offered for the mass sighting in Chongqing, either.
Now, we are revisiting the Inner Mongolia airport shut down as “fresh” news, nearly a month after it happened. This is not timely reporting by the mainstream media.
Additionally, reporting has not always been based on a credible and rational approach, like Leslie Kean has been fighting for. Most bloggers I know, aim every day to live up to those standards. However, some members of the mainstream media just aren’t getting it.
A Washington Post article resulting from the National Press Club Conference in September was presented in a satirical and rather bizarre manner. A Time article recently speculated that aliens might be interested in Peking duck or Chanel knock-offs, referring to a possible reason for the China UFO wave.
Did anyone say anything about aliens?
First, we have to determine what the objects were, then we can speculate where they came from and who was flying them.
Though some members of the mainstream media have followed Kean’s lead to report responsibly on the subject of UFOs, others really need to learn a few things from Leslie Kean.
From a reader’s viewpoint, there are three things that readers have expressed that they desire from mainstream media reporting:
- Just present the facts.
- Report on incidents in a timely manner.
- Spare us the lame UFO jokes.
On a related note:
Anyone who is confused about the time line or reported information about the China UFO incidents are welcome to refer to my related articles about China, starting on July 8, 2010.