Ill-informed news reports that perpetuate misconceptions about "those little airplanes" are a constant source of frustration for AOPA and all general aviation pilots.
That's why AOPA's media relations staff is attending the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) convention in Fort Worth, Texas, this weekend - to educate them about AOPA and GA.
"This is a very well-respected organization in the journalism community," said Chris Dancy, AOPA director of media relations. "But these are the same folks who do the most damage to GA when they file reports without fully understanding the issue."
Investigative reporters - especially television "I-Team" reporters who are often under tremendous pressure to generate high ratings - have been responsible for many of AOPA's biggest media headaches, especially in the post-9/11 environment.
Because they do not always understand the wide variety of GA airports and their differing security needs, investigative reporters have frequently done "lack-of-security" stories about unfenced, uncontrolled community airports. AOPA's media relations department refers to these as "Look! I'm touching this airplane and no one stopped me!" stories.
So that's why AOPA is at IRE this weekend - to show reporters and editors the many tools AOPA offers to help them tell the story fairly.
"We developed an online newsroom that provides all the tools a reporter needs when a small plane becomes the big story," said Dancy. "And we'll make sure they know about GA Serving America, AOPA Online, and AOPA Project Pilot.
"The bottom line is, we want AOPA to be their first call whenever they've got a story involving 'small planes.'"
June 15, 2006