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Media exploitating archaeology-archaeology exloitating the media

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  • Joe Zias
    Readers interested in how the media at times exploits the profession as well as how colleagues exploit both the profession and  the public via the media
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 3, 2009
      Readers interested in how the media at times exploits the profession as
      well as how colleagues exploit both the profession and  the public via
      the media should take a look at the latest issue of NEA. Four articles appear, the one by Silberman 'Still not Ready for Primetime' is a must.
      article which begins the forum, starts off describing his experience
      with that famous 'wanna be archaeologist' who starred in some  American
      'survivor series'.  I too was approached by one of his staff regarding
      my work on Qumran. When we discussed payment the conversation turned to
      that all too familiar mantra 'we don't have much of a budget' along
      with 'as you are identified with some of the work on Qumran, we thought
      you'd do it for free or almost free' . Then it got worse, they
      mentioned that they weren't looking for experts, even a student would
      do nicely. At that point I closed the phone, a few days later someone
      brought to my attention that they were looking on www.craigslist.com for a Qumran expert. They got one, guy calling himself  Professor Vendyl Jones, the idea behind Indy Jones, so he says !

      payment for these docs is appalling and humiliating to the profession
      and may be why some folks are working for nothing, just to be on the
      screen or in BAR. For example, $150 US for his participation, that is if they
      pay, colleagues seem to unaware that the cameraman who is carrying that
      camera around on his shoulder is bringing in 1500 EU per day for the
      same amt of time. And remember that Jesus Tomb item by SJ and the
      BAR crowd had a 4 million dollar budget !!!   Ask for what the
      cameraman is making and don't sign the release until the latest
      possible time.

      Eric Cline's use of the 'royal we' in reference
      to ASOR members somehow bringing a degree of truthfulness to the screen
      is, as pointed out by C. Holtorf, off the mark, way off the mark. If
      one looks at the small group of individuals posing as archaeologists,
      bona fide archaeologists, authors, scholars etc  who are perhaps the
      most guilty in today's misuse of the media, one will see that nearly
      all belong to ASOR, present papers at ASOR meetings etc. In fact, they
      bring more shame to ASOR than creditability.

      point that academics have to better learn how to present their findings
      to the public is a point well taken. From time to time producers ask me
      who is the best, the most noted for their documentary and I have to
      laugh as sometimes the first rate colleagues are not the best on screen
      when it comes to presenting this to the media. This is a lesson hard
      learned by some. On the other hand some of the best presenters are the worst when it comes to scientific creditability, they will give you 'signs and wonders' but little else and are oft times embarrassing in terms of pandering to the public. I brought this up at SBL to one of those perhaps most guilty in terms of pandering to the public, he replied 'we want more public exposure'. More on this later....

      Ann Killebrew's summation is a
      must as she devotes most of the article to the 'written word' where
      some of the most blatant out and out fraud occurs. Not to mention this
      is where the money is in terms of the popular media, with advances
      today, which if known would shock readers. The worse it is in terms of
      scientific value, the higher the advance. PT Barnum was correct.

      Joe Zias
      Joe Zias www.joezias.com

      Science and Antiquity Group - Jerusalem
      Jerusalem, Israel

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