When you have a platform like the highest rated morning “news” program for going on two decades it means you have a large and loyal audience. It also means you have an even greater responsibility to be accurate. Perhaps you’re familiar with the phrase, or some version of it -- heavy lies the head that wears the crown. In this case the Today Show’s diet and nutrition expert, Joy Bauer, gives viewers some almost right nutrition advice on fish. But with crown firmly placed atop the Today Show’s head almost isn’t good enough.
We have a long and storied past with the New York Times that grew out of an article penned by Marian Burros that was, in the end, colossally off base and required not just a correction but a public admonishment from the paper’s ombudsmen. So, when we see the Old Grey Lady straying into well charted and questionable territory we do what we always do and insist on the facts.
This week began with such a straying. Our letter is below;
March 30, 2010
More than once I have bemoaned the fact that one media outlet or another did a story on seafood and did not reach out to use NFI as a resource. I maintain it’s rather difficult to write a story about the seafood industry and not contact the leading voice for that industry… or at least it’s rather difficult to write a fair and accurate story without doing so.
This time the reporter in question did reach out to NFI but we were not featured in her final product.
Would it be a bridge too far to say trumped-up imported seafood scare stories are passé? I mean really, how many times can you hear an anchor say something is “fishy” and then toss to a reporter who can’t point to a single case of someone getting sick from imported seafood but they can line up myriad quasi-experts with clear agendas to tell you how dangerous things are.
Well, there’s an eons old local news story about imported fish that’s getting some play on YouTube because some folks have been recirculating it on the web.
Let’s be honest. If you haven’t seen stories in the media recently about an increased interest in ferreting out seafood fraud you’ve been living under a rock. Busts for short-weighted fish, mislabeled species and tariff violations are up and just about every wanna be Woodward and Bernstein is reporting on it- the pescatarian perp walk is almost becoming common place.
Dr. Oz claims to be one of the biggest proponents of eating fish but time and time again when it comes to seafood science he comes close to getting it right or he just misses altogether.
After a recent syndicated column once again didn’t quite get the story on seafood right we reached out to his syndicator who promised they’d pass our concerns right along to him.
We never heard back from Dr. Oz himself. Does it seem to you like our efforts to educate him are falling on deaf ears?
So, here’s the latest from the folks at Time.com. This time their lawyer lets us know how “indisputably accurate” their story is-- only after having been revised twice because of myriad demonstrable errors we pointed out to them.
Let me suggest a way we can stop this back and forth. We both agree that tuna is “generally healthful”—Time’s words, not mine. So let’s not feature it on a list of the ten most “dangerous foods”—shall we?
KGO-TV in San Francisco joins the legions of local news operations who have had reporters catapulted to the heights of Woodward and Bernstein by testing local fish for mercury with the help of agenda driven activists. And wouldn’t you know it they didn’t get the whole story quite right:
March 5, 2010
Dear Mr. Keeshan,
…the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR.) Apparently CJR finds, in its latest edition, that the online version of many a magazine is lacking in the “conventional copy-editing and fact-checking” department. Interesting.