Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Scare Tactics To Fill 2 min. 20 seconds

We see these "investigative" reports all the time on the evening news. Quick sound bites shouting "buyer beware," not overly concerned with those left in the wake. ABC15 News reporter Anne Yeager in Phoenix, AZ meets her editor's deadline with just such a story about genealogy called "Consumer Alert: Beware of genealogy rip-offs and scams." (after clicking the link above, scroll the bottom of that article to click the video camera icon to watch the video report.)

The two minute and twenty second video report attempts to sum up a lifetime hobby, and dishes up some incorrect impressions and statements in the process.

Like the sound bite quote from a local genealogist saying “It seems everyone wants to believe they are related to Charlemagne or Jesse James." Maybe it's just me, but that never crossed my mind. And my guess is it wasn't your top priority for delving into your family history.

And Yeager's warnings that all this research just might cost you money. Ya think? Kimberly Powell who writes about genealogy at her About.com column has been thoughtfully talking about the cost of research. In her most recent email newsletter she's absolutely right when she says, "Web sites cost money to maintain and records cost money to acquire, digitize and transcribe." If we want to do quality research, it's going to cost something. Last time I checked, all the most popular hobbies and activities have costs involved. And when our child wants to learn to play the piano, don't we pay an experienced instructor to teach them?

If and when the American version of the family history TV show "Who Do You Think You Are?" hits the airways, we can expect to see a lot more of these reports trying to sum up how to research your family in 2 minutes and 20 seconds. But if you think about it, wouldn't it be a shame if that's all it took? Genealogy research is a challenge and a lifetime joy, and an investment. And I for one wouldn't have it any other way.

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