Demands on UFO Researchers by the Media and Groups
I have in previous editorials vented about my feelings toward the media and how they report events related to the subject of UFO's, and in particular their expectations from researchers. I've discussed these issues with other researchers I have worked with over the years, and we all seem to be of the same opinion. I don't expect this editorial will cause any changes in the media's method of operation, but for those reading this that believe we researchers make a lot of money for doing conferences and radio and TV interviews, I'll present some examples of that false belief.
Perhaps due to the economy or the information available via the Internet, many groups, (several MUFON chapters included that I've dealt with recently), are anxious to ask researchers to speak to their group, but when it comes time to discuss an honorarium or travel and lodging expenses for the researcher, the discussion becomes stalemated and the researcher is not invited since they are not willing, or don't have the finances to pay for the speakers expenses. I am appreciative to those groups that I have lectured to about my research that were willing to pay my expenses to get there. In those cases covering my expenses was my only motive, as I've never done this research for profit, continuing to believe that sharing the research is important, and it should be compensated at least for the many years it has taken to obtain the information.
Basically what it comes down to is the fact that the media, and many groups want the information that we researchers have obtained over the past 20 to 30 years at our own expense and time, for free. I know of very few other organizations that expect their speakers to share their information for free as we UFO researchers have had to do for years.
The TV documentaries you see on TV about UFO's are on the air for two reasons; (ratings and profits), and many times they distort the information we shared during the filming with a crew that knows nothing about the subject. So we're at the mercy of some editor back in New York or Los Angeles. (Researchers do not have the opportunity to review what will be aired prior to it being broadcast.) I have never received any compensation for the hours of filming I did with any film crews that I've been involved with. Brad Meltzer's "Decoded" series on the History channel was an exception, i.e. the information I shared with the crew was depicted as I presented it in the final product, and the crew had done their homework before the interview with me. A National Geographic Network show several years ago was the opposite, when they filmed me for 6 hours, using my vehicle to get around, and the show aired as a total distortion of the information I shared. Stanton Friedman was also involved in that show and we both informed National Geographic about our displeasure with the results.
Recently I was busy working around the house one morning, when I received a call from a radio producer with a German radio station that was in Roswell, wondering if I could do a 10 or 15-minute interview with their show host that morning. That threw up the first red flag for me. I was expected to drop everything I was doing and share my 25 years of research about an event that happened 65 years ago in a 10-minute interview. I told her I was busy at the time but could arrange to meet her after lunch about 1. She said, "that wasn't good, could I do it later, so we agreed that I would meet her at 2."
After lunch I cleaned up, and waited for her to call. She didn't call until an hour and 45 minutes after our agreed time, and told me, "She was not going to be able to interview me as they were going back to Santa Fe that afternoon." I informed her that this was the very reason I was disgusted with the media. We researchers are expected to drop whatever we're doing for their benefit, so they can interview us about one of the most important events in history and do it in 10 or 15 minutes according to their schedule, with no reimbursement for the wasted time I had. Even though I didn't personally meet this interviewer, I would wager that she had no knowledge of the Roswell incident, and as with many others that want to do interviews and know nothing about the subject, it probably would not have been a good interview.
It becomes extremely frustrating when these type things happen time and time again. I would like to see other researchers take a stand about what has transpired far too long, when it comes to asking for our years of hard work for free, and entirely for their benefit.
Live radio is fun, and can be done with an hour or two interview by telephone or Skype connections. There are no editors to distort what you're sharing with the host and his, (or her) audience, and is usually done in the comfort of your own home, requiring no additional expense for the researcher other than a little of his time. Those radio hosts that have done their homework on the subject are always the best interviews.
A typical one hour TV documentary is actually only about 40-45-minutes in length. The remaining time is commercials and that income is going somewhere, obviously not to the researcher being interviewed.
On the conference and seminar organizers, it's a shame that many good serious researchers are not invited because the group can't pay minimal expenses to bring in the speakers. If I book a lecture and come close to breaking even on the expenses, I'm pleased, as I feel I have been able to share some research with them that perhaps they haven't heard before.
Several of you reading this are probably thinking I shouldn't do it if I'm unhappy about the way we researchers are treated, and yes, TV, radio and conferences are exposure for our information, but it doesn't pay for supplies, travel, and many other expenses we have had in doing the research for many years. Being a UFO researcher is not a profession that will make you rich, and many may think because you are on TV, do lectures or sell books you make a lot of money---you don't. Therefore it is essential to understand that many of us do this research out of a devotion to obtaining the truth, and are willing to share it with many media outlets. Those outlets need to understand what was involved by that researcher they're interviewing to obtain the knowledge he or she has been sharing for years, that make the media's programs interesting.
Will anything change in the future to fairly recognize what these researchers have accomplished over the years? Probably not, but I felt a need to share a few of my experiences with you, that others have also experienced. It's disappointing at times, and extremely frustrating, but searching for the truth is too important to ignore. Hopefully in the future researchers will be given the recognition they so badly deserve.
Dennis G. Balthaser