Posted by: geonarcissa | June 3, 2009

My battle against the media continues. ;)

There have been a few comments added to the LA Daily News article I criticized the other day. One commenter called some of us “GeoNazis” for expressing disappointment at the way the article characterizes geocaching. Aren’t trolls fun? No response from the writer, which is disappointing.

Up to bat today is an article from the Turlock Journal which places a disturbing amount of emphasis on the idea of “buried treasure” and highlights new rules prohibiting geocaches from being buried in California’s state parks, among other things. The article fails to mention that Geocaching.com also has guidelines against buried caches – there are only a small handful of caches listed on Geocaching.com that are buried, and they are all buried with special permission. In nearly 1000 finds, I have never found a cache that was buried.

I emailed the article’s writer to detail my concerns about the inaccuracies in her piece. I wish these writers would take just a little bit of time to speak with actual geocachers and get these details right. Here’s what I said:

I just read your piece about geocaching, and I am concerned about some inaccuracies.

All geocache containers contain a logbook. Some contain trade items of low monetary value, but the point of geocaching is the hunt – not what’s inside.

Regardless of additional rules imposed by land managers, geocaching.com generally won’t list caches that are buried unless there is explicit permission from the land owner or manager. I have found nearly 1000 caches, and not a single one was buried.

Referring to geocaching as, or comparing it to “hidden treasure” is damaging to the game’s reputation. We often face an uphill battle against the incorrect, preconceived ideas land managers and policy makers have formed by reading articles like yours. The idea that there are valuable prizes to be found makes geocaches vulnerable to theft and vandalism, and makes land managers wary of inviting trouble. Any mention of “burying” raises red flags about environmental damage.

Geocachers are, for the most part, respectful of the land, and effective in policing ourselves and each other. Every geocache has an online log where visitors have the option of flagging a cache for closer review if its placement is a concern.

I encourage you to connect with some local geocachers to experience the game, and please consider correcting your article so it accurately reflects what we do.

To a non-cacher reading the article, it might not seem like a big deal, but when I see “hidden treasure” in an article about geocaching, I cringe. If land managers get the idea that geocaches are hidden in a damaging way and contain valuable items, they will be more apt to ban or restrict the game on public lands.

I encourage all geocachers to write in with corrections when you see these stories in your local newspapers. Let’s protect the game so we can all still be playing it five, ten, twenty years down the road.

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Responses

  1. I have to agree. I hate when reporters try to report about geocaching. As a news student myself, I know too many reporters try to take the shortcut trying to meet deadlines or whatever and really don’t understand what they’re reporting. It’s obnoxious, and I have posted comments on news stories about geocaching correcting errors. Plus, many news stories never mention CITO…something many geocachers practice often. That makes me sad.

  2. Hey, thanks for the comment. I think you’re right that it has a lot to do with writers taking shortcuts. It’s frustrating because it’s just not that complicated!


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