So I just sent this email to Astronomy.com's editorial team, and, well, I felt like it was so important that I wanted to share it here. It's an example of where I feel someone's writing went wrong, and it's also an issue I feel so strongly about that I would like to share my opinions on the matter.
I don't know if they'll ever reply, or if they'll just read this and laugh. But I felt I would be remiss if I didn't alert them to the fact that hey, I don't like how they're doing things right now and I don't think it's good for other people either.
TL;DR: News doesn't have to be depressing, guys. And being realistic actually means having a healthy dose of optimism.
I am a lifelong astronomy enthusiast who enjoys keeping up with the latest news on all things space-related. For a while now, I have gotten my space news from Astronomy Magazine as I find it to be reliable, informative, and interesting.
However, sometimes I am bothered by the negative, almost pessimistic tone of some of your news articles, in which I feel that the downsides or potential negative effects and implications of an event or idea are given undue emphasis, with little or no regard to positive facts or the potential for desirable outcomes.
A good example of this is the article you ran on the collapse of the Arecibo radio telescope. I found the article to be very informative as to the details of the collapse, but then it began delving too far into negative thinking for my liking.
"Too little, too late" is the phrase used to describe what the author seems to perceive as an ignorant blunder on the part of the NSF with regards to the timing of the decommissioning process. For a project of this magnitude to be carried out correctly and safely takes a lot of planning and engineering. I think it is reasonable to assume that the NSF was doing all it could to put together a plan to dismantle the telescope swiftly but safely. The platform collapse happened mere weeks after the prior cable break, which is not much time at all when dealing with an engineering issue of this magnitude.
And no attention, save a brief note, was paid to the fact that, due to the NSF's sound judgment in not attempting repairs and evacuating personnel after the cable break, no one was injured in the platform collapse. Telescopes are replaceable, but the real tragedy here would have been a loss of human life. Because of the NSF's foresight, that tragedy was averted and they should be lauded for it.
I appreciated the mention of the hashtag #WhatAreciboMeansToMe, and it is wonderful to see the astronomical community fondly remembering Arecibo, but then the article again took a turn for the negative as it quoted individuals with very pessimistic outlooks. While I understand that many are grieving the telescope's loss and need time to process their emotions, I do not appreciate that some people's emotional reactions seem to be taken as fact by the article writer, and again they were not balanced by quotes from individuals with more hopeful and resilient outlooks.
We do not know what the future holds. I firmly believe Rosario-Franco can have opportunities to work in radio astronomy in Puerto Rico if those opportunities are made available, and there is no good reason to close the door on that. She may very well be the person to spearhead such valiant efforts, if she does not allow herself to lapse into defeatist depression, but moves past this loss to see the potential of future achievements.
And perhaps the demise of Arecibo was a timely wakeup call to the federal government to pay more attention to science and education in Puerto Rico, and that has the potential to bring about wonderful change. I believe true societal progress is made when we focus less on a non-optimal current situation and focus more on the goals we want to achieve. Sitting around and complaining about current states of funding does not do much but make destructive, reactive anger and bitterness fester in oneself and others. Becoming solution-oriented, and having a willingness to forgive and move on from the mistakes of the past, is what will bring true solutions.
Overall the tone of this article struck me as hopeless, dour, and critical, and in my opinion that was wholly unnecessary. Especially in the face of everything our world is going through right now, there is no need to make readers feel that another absolute tragedy has happened, one which can never be recovered from and which also conveniently draws attention to contentious political issues, with no suggestion of solutions or the possibility that things might actually get better. Because they do. History has shown us time and time again that yes, bad things happen. But so do good things. And very often, good things come out of bad things and we would be wise to remember that.
I feel this was a grave misstep on the part of the editorial team, and I ask them to remember that in these trying times, we must all do our part to uplift and encourage each other. Writers have tremendous power over the mental state of their readers, and Astronomy Magazine does not need to slide into the sort of irrational gloom-and-doom negativity of so many other news outlets.
While I appreciate the factual quality of your articles, if their emotional tone continues to trend in this direction, I will have to seek my space news elsewhere, because I am tired of being bombarded by others' negative and despairing opinions. Space should be fun. Let's keep it that way.
T. K. Arispe
Also, if you wanted a writing update, I am getting very close to the last chapters of Earthkeepers! I am very excited. I also have some fun promotional stuff in the works, like a blog tour and quite possibly an audiobook! You can keep up with the news on that on my Facebook page.
And, if you want a sneak peek of the novel I'd like to work on next, here's a teaser: Giant robots. Space-time anomalies. Alien space pirates and lupine galactic invaders. Young adult on her way to a new job on the Moon gets thrown into all the craziness due to a space-warp quantum-entanglement mishap. Tentative title: Blue Diver, because the giant robot pilots are called Divers.
I don't even know, man. It's gonna be fun.