Not so fast, New York Times

Posted by David Eicher
on Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On April 4, 2011, the New York Times ran a story called “Black-Market Trinkets from Space” in which writer William J. Broad lashed out at amateur meteorite collectors and dealers for practicing their hobby. “An illegal sales market has boomed” in the wake of increasing interest in space rocks, claimed Broad. He quoted Dr. Ralph Harvey of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland as calling the meteorite trade “as organized as any drug trade and just as illegal.” As Broad targeted meteorite hunters and dealers as existing in the shady realm of quasi- or fully-illegal activities, he raised the ire of the meteorite community.

A New York Times article claims a growing interest in space rocks, like this fragment of the Tataouine meteorite, has produced a "black market" for such pieces, upsetting the reputable meteorite community collectors. Credit: Courtesy Impactika Meteorites
Not so fast, says Anne Black, owner of Impactika Meteorites and president of the International Meteorite Collectors Association. Last week, she issued a lengthy rebuttal to the New York Times article that clearly and soberly responds to a number of points that were not correct. Some of the comments were taken out of context in the Times story, and some were just plain wrong. It‘s another example of how journalists, in this day and age, often oversimplify and distort in the race to create a dramatic and easily digestible story.

If you are at all interested in meteorites, I heartily encourage you to read the rebuttal, which you can find here:

Let us hope that such a paper with a reputation for great journalism as the New York Times covers this and other subjects in the future with a tone that is a little more sober, and, dare we say, a little more fair and balanced?

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