Posts tagged ‘media’
The news that the Center for Biological Diversity’s excellent report, Costs and Consequences: The Real Price of Livestock Grazing on America’s Public Lands was picked up by only three publications (after being sent to easily 100 journalists covering ranching and public lands issues) got me googling. Was the press not interested in rancher and public lands issues since the report was published in late January?
This is why I’m writing a series in The Daily Pitchfork for our new SourceWatch feature: “The media adores ranchers. Here’s why they shouldn’t.”
Economic data isn’t iconic the way ranchers are. It doesn’t have that rancher-campfire smell about it. But still, I know journalists care about informing the public. So why does the only truth they’re putting out there have a big cowboy hat on it?
Swing on over here for Part I. And it’s a series, pardner. That means more romance is headed your way.
A series of 18 AP news stories that repeated significant factual errors for a year and a half will not be corrected, according to AP West Editor, Traci Carl.
The articles, which Ms. Carl admits were not fact-checked, followed the attempts of a Roswell, NM, abattoir—Valley Meat—to slaughter horses based on the argument that it would diminish horse abuse and neglect. But there was a problem with that premise, which correlated data showing increasing horse abuse and neglect reported by the GAO (Government Accountability Office) with the closure of the last three domestic horse slaughter plants.
The AP reporter, Jeri Clausing, misreported the closing dates by a year, however, causing the correlation with the GAO data to turn on its head.
Instead of showing that horses suffered abuse and neglect when domestic plants closed, the GAO data instead showed the opposite: that abuse and neglect increased during years in which the plants remained open. But despite being informed of this and other errors, the AP kept repeating them, in most cases, simply cutting and pasting the same false statements—verbatim—into successive articles.
These spread virally across Bloomberg News and Reuters; ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News; NPR; the Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal and USA Today—and hundreds of other mainstream and smaller news providers. As of this date, only one of them—The Christian Science Monitor—has responded to requests to issue a public and formal correction.
The Political Consequences of False Reporting
The false claim that banning slaughter increases horse abuse and neglect was a godsend for Valley Meat and other plants looking to produce horse meat in the U.S. The cumulative audience for that message easily reached into the tens of millions, including lawmakers wrestling with whether to ban or welcome horse slaughter plants into their jurisdictions.
Last year, Oklahoma lawmakers argued erroneously but effectively in overturning a 50-year ban on horse slaughter that it would alleviate horse abuse.