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Are We Treating Elon Musk Fairly?

 3 min read / 

Beneath this mask, there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask, there is an idea, and ideas are bulletproof.

                                                                                           V for Vendetta

 

When I was in my early 20s, I was the first editor hired for a new business newspaper, one that was going to be launched to rival a well-established name in the market (and did so, successfully). Call it what you will, but I put so much heart into it that I got a number of people – more senior than me – to join with just a dream. I experienced first-hand the fact that when you have a dream breathe life into you, you truly feel invincible.

I see that in Elon Musk – a man driven by ideals. And when that happens, whether we like it or not, deeply human flaws are sometimes forgiven. Is he vain? Arrogant? Is he often wrong? Perhaps all of the above and much more. If this man, with his ideals and his flaws, can take us to Mars, should we forgive him and his mistakes? Or should the media watch him closely and make him pay for each misstep?

I have no doubt in my mind that Musk believes he will deliver on his promises and that he thinks the world will be better off for that reason. I understand why he’d think his critics are just causing delays to something he feels the world badly needs. I can see why he’s frustrated with everyone else not being able to see the world through his eyes. But should he get a free pass by promising us a great future?

There’s no black and white answer. While I believe there should be checks and balances in place (and the media and stakeholders are two such things), I also know that had someone been killed by any other type of vehicle in the world, and not a Tesla (even a self-driving one), a while back, it wouldn’t even make it to the newsroom.

I was sadly told, as a student, that the informal way to assess the newsworthiness of an accident fatality not involving a celebrity is by counting the number of kilometres from the site to the newsroom; if the number of victims is less than the distance, it’s not worth reporting. Cold, but apparently that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

So yeah, the media should continue to keep an eye on Musk, but it should also take a hard, long look at itself and ask whether it’s being fair. I’ll leave that question unanswered for now, but happy to hear your thoughts on the topic. And make sure not to miss our spotlight on Elon Musk. Some of our top authors weigh in on this very interesting character too.

 

(Photo: Steve Jurvetson, Flicker)

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