I get the impression that his story started out as one about how online bragging, etc. can put people at risk for disaster - to be published in his Extreme Outdoors column. Then the story changed to the mountain rescue of David. That appears to be why there are a couple of isolated paragraphs about the potential risk of people getting in over their head after visiting an online forum..
After reading the article, I agree with you Bill. Unfortunately, reporters more and more are coming to stories with premises, then seeing if they can prove them. Of course you always can if you ask the right people.
It appears here that the reporter had the the idea that online TRs do
inspire the underskilled to seek glory in spite of dire consequences. Instead, he should have asked, do they
? Here's the section that shows the premise, and I would have asked for his source on this:
Sometimes a little knowledge gleaned from nonchalant but highly qualified athletes is just enough to get an aspiring, underqualified athlete in trouble. And sometimes the praise that follows the more adventurous posts is envied so much that it can overcome the common sense essential for spending time in the mountains.
Completely unsourced. He follows with a quote to attampt to "source" the previous statement:
"Forums can be such a good source of information - you always have to consider the source of the information," said Halsted Morris, a longtime snow scientist in Colorado who participates in online communities. "Sometimes, I see people skiing stuff, and I wonder if they are doing it for the actual skiing or a kind of glory on the Internet."
The emphasis is mine ... but Morris is almost certainly discussing TGR. If he'd have been referencing 14ers.com, the author would have noted it in the story as a "smoking gun."
Reporters (if you are listening) should remember to investigate, rather than prove, a story idea. This means framing your story idea like this: "I've noticed this thing; I wonder if I can find out more about this and see if what I think is true" and not like this: "Here is this thing I know that I know; I need to find some sources who can reinforce this thing so I can tell other people about it."
On a positive note, the author here seems to have come with a premise, then abandonned it when he found a richer story (the 14ers.com community) and gripping narrative (the rescue). However, ego does get in the way, so, as you noted Bill, there are those few graphs that allude to TGR stuck in the middle. This is probably the original story idea's nucleus that, even now seeming out-of-place, the author couldn't bring himself to part with. Been there. Lucky for him (and us), when he started investigating and asking around about this thing, all these rich threads popped up and we have a different story than "TGR TRs are bad."
Stories are never what you think they're going to be once you dig in, if you ask good questions and listen. Premise-chasing, on the other hand, is what is slowly turning the MSM (and blogosphere, for that matter) into "truth factories" that actually pump out mislabled opinion.
I'm glad this reporter found what he might not have been looking for.
Sorry for the lengthy post. Deconstruction is my bag.[/quote]