Time and time again we see local TV stations recycling the ole’ testing mercury in fish story. We have literally seen the same story in dozens of local markets across the country over the course of five or more years.
There is nothing new to the story. There’s no new angle. And yet the ease of the predetermined narrative and the predetermined outcome with the faux appearance of some sort of benefit to viewers is just too much for some, often over burdened, journalists to pass up.
Despite all of the push back and holding of journalists accountable that you might read on this blog there’s an underlying truth that we might sometimes lose sight of while engaging in all of these individual fire fights— seafood has a great story to tell.
Yesterday Dr. Edward Groth III of the Mercury Policy Project announced the launch of a new website designed to provide 'mercury facts' that stand in contrast to ones provided by sites like this.
April 12, 2010
VP for Standards
Dear Mr. McCormick,
Thank you for responding to our letter and for Ms. Bauer’s explanation of the advice she gave regarding seafood consumption.
So, NBC wrote back, in hopes it would be able to address our “concerns.” I see a thorough cut and past job from Mr. McCormick but not so much with the addressing of the concerns. Feel free to read the letter and watch this space for our response:
Director, Media Relations
National Fisheries Institute
Jennifer McGuire, MS, RD
Manager, Nutrition Communication
National Fisheries Institute
I am responding to your e-mail of March 30 regarding a recent segment by Joy Bauer on the NBC News Today program.
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.