Saturday, June 19, 2010
Gotta love CNN. Here they assert in their accompanying photo caption that the "recently-discovered" Louisiana Pancake Batfish "plays an important role in the foodchain." Okay, they have my attention. I had never heard of this silver dollar-sized morsel with a face only a mother pancake batfish could love, but appreciating the intricacies of the food chain, was interested in the linkage this deepwater hors d'ouvre might have in that chain.
So, having set the context of having discovered a biological disaster that will affect species well-beyond the pelicans, oysters and Gulf Coast tourist toefly, CNN writer, Kelly Lynch goes on to write: "[The LPB] lives an anonymous sort of existence on the seabed of the Gulf, some 1,500 feet below the waves and -- like all marine life in the gulf -- plays its role in the food chain."
That's it, Kelly of CNN? "plays its role?" First of all, I think you need not limit your comparison to just marine life in the gulf, or, for that matter to just marine life. I think it fair to say that any life anywhere "plays its role in the food chain." But of course that wouldn't have been much of a story now would it? I suspect there are 1000s of naturally-occurring mutations walking on, tunneling under and drifting along the seabed around the world right now, but at sample size one or, for that matter, even 10,000, I think it a bit of a stretch to declare their role in the foodchain as "important."
The point here, Kelly of CNN, is that there is ample factual reporting that you and your colleagues can do on this incident. It's already pretty well accepted that it is a massive ecological disaster. You don't have to make up a story that doesn't exist to draw attention to the seriousness of the problem (except maybe at the White House and even they finally seem to have grasped that fact). And your job as a journalist is to journal, not foment. So leave the hyperbole to the tabloids and networks like MSNBC and CNN...oh, wait a minute...never mind.