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Tuesday 13 February 2024

Mainstream Media vs Fringe


Unlike some people who write on fortean topics, I don't see the mainstream media as an arch-villain. I used "vs" in the title of this post to mean "as contrasted with", rather than "fighting to the death against". Anyway, you can't get much more mainstream than the Observer and the Guardian, which are among Britain's most prestigious Sunday and daily newspapers respectively (particularly, I suspect, among more thoughtful and well-educated readers).

So I was enormously pleased when the Observer printed a two-page feature about space telescopes by me in last weekend's edition (as shown in the picture above), and then the same article was also posted for a much larger audience on the Guardian website under the title Cosmic Time Machines. That's undoubtedly the high point of my writing career to date, easily beating my appearance in BBC Science Focus magazine which I showed off about a few months ago.

But I'm equally proud of the fact that I've had 21 articles published in Fortean Times, not to mention 47 book reviews and a few other mentions. And I've contributed to several other "fringe" media in the past, including Edge Science magazine and the Mysterious Universe website.

I don't really see a distinction, or even any serious conflict, between the two. If you're passionately interested in unravelling the world's mysteries, why focus on UFOs, psychic powers and Bigfoot and ignore exoplanets, quantum gravity and AI (or vice versa)? Fortunately there are at least a couple of regular Fortean Times contributors who also write for the mainstream media, but they're very much in the minority. There are plenty of well-known writers on anomalous phenomena who seemingly show zero interest in a topic if it's perceived as being too "mainstream", which I find very sad.

Anyway, I don't want to turn this post into a rant. My main purpose was just to show off about my appearance in the Observer and the Guardian - which, as I said, marks the high point of my writing career to date. Hopefully that doesn't mean it's going to be all downhill from here!


Colin Jones said...

Congratulations, Andrew - I clicked on The Guardian website link and I noticed that your article has comments underneath. I'm a regular-ish reader of that website and I always prefer articles with comments attached. I definitely agree that mainstream science subjects are as equally interesting as "fortean" subjects and I've found plenty on The Guardian website - just a couple of days ago there was an article about how climate change could switch off the Gulf Stream and plunge Britain into Arctic-like winters.

Kid said...

Oh dear, I'm crushed, AM. Not being a reader of either the Observer or the Guardian, I guess I'm not among those more thoughtful and well-educated readers. I'm going to go to my bed now and have a good cry, seeing as how you've made me realise I'm a bit of a thicko.

Andrew May said...

Oops, sorry Kid - I really meant that the Guardian and Observer are well-respected brands among the better educated sections of society, not that the latter are necessarily always readers of them (which I'm not myself, either, except occasionally online). But perhaps I could have worded it better!

Many thanks to Colin for his comments - I didn't realize there were comments under my Guardian article, which is useful to know. By coincidence, I saw the item about the Gulf Stream too, and after digging into it a bit more I discovered that there's a semi-fictional book on the subject called "The Coming Global Superstorm". Interestingly for the topic of this blog post, it's by two authors normally associated with the "fringe", Art Bell and Whitley Strieber, but from the reviews on Amazon it sounds like it's well researched and based on real possibilities. Anyway, it sounds intriguing enough to jump to the top of my reading list - I'll probably buy it on Kindle and read it this weekend.