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How many times can Greenpeace recycle the same old publicity stunts before they finally exhaust the gullibility of the news media? That seems to be the wager behind the global fundraising organization’s announcement of its latest manufactured attack on the seafood industry.
Over at the New York Times, Jim Windolf astutely notes that the American media has a corrosive habit of fomenting hysteria over nonexistent health threats, and that we’d probably be better off tuning out the doomsayers and going about our lives.
More than a year after the Food and Drug Administration definitively called out Consumer Reports for its feckless and dangerous misinformation on tuna, the group continues to peddle the same pseudo-science to mothers and expectant women.
Consumer Reports packaged its latest attack on public health as a “safety alert”, but in fact it’s a warmed over version of the original, discredited story misleadingly presented as novel work.
A word of warning to reporters who might have come across a press release promoting a little-known study that purports to look at the benefits and risks associated with eating fish. The study claims it finds gaps in the scientific and nutrition understanding of seafood. But that is not in keeping with widely-accepted published, peer-reviewed research.
September 1, 2015
Health & Nutrition Editor
Dear Ms. Fernstrom,
Today.com’s recent article Eating fish 2-3 times a week is recommended: What about every day? enters into and an interesting and important discussion about seafood consumption in this country. By and large Linda Carroll’s reliance on experts guides her towards some useful information that may be able help your readers make informed dietary decisions.
We spend a lot of time in this blog calling out journalists for getting things wrong. And let’s be honest there’s no shortage of agenda-driven reporters who endorse hyperbole and half-truths as standard operating procedure. And still others who are comfortable reading a line or two from a press release and simply printing it without… well… actually doing any reporting.
Recently there’s been an ongoing discussion about how to deal with fish fraud. Knowledgeable members of the seafood community know that enforcement is the key and that crafting new laws or changing what you call one fish or another is an uninformed exercise in futility and not a real solution.
The Justice Department recently reminded a company named Alphin Brothers Inc. how much of a solution enforcement really is.
If you’re a Consumer Reports reader, you’re hearing this week that shrimp is a superfood – high in protein, low in fat and calories, and a great source of vitamins and valuable minerals. Ahh, yes, and maybe soon Consumer Reports will “reveal” that drinking water is good for you, or that Barack Obama won his second term as President.
When it was time to talk about commercial seafood The New York Times didn’t call the seafood community, it called Greenpeace. Then it gave Greenpeace a 586 word column to spout their misinformed fundraising rhetoric and when we called them on it and asked for equal space they offered us a 200 word blurb in the comment string. Thanks New York Times, that’s a tremendous demonstration of journalistic balance. What follows is what we would have contributed had the New York Times’ “Room for Debate” section actually had room for real debate:
Greenpeace is touting the latest in its long line of opaque, subjective, and hopelessly flawed “reports” on retail seafood. This year’s model may have lost the juvenile aesthetic and top hat donning cartoon fish of previous iterations, but the substance—or lack thereof—remains much the same. It is still first and foremost a fundraising tool and evidence of that can be found in its erratic methodology and narrative.