Responsible Reporting

10th June 2016 | by

The public's perception of sharks has a big impact on efforts to conserve and protect them.

Responsible Reporting

 

The way in which the media reports on shark related stories can in turn have a big impact on the public’s perception of sharks. This means that the media has a lot of power over the fate of shark species, a great power which, you guessed it, SHOULD come with great responsibility.

“…the media have a lot of power over the fate of shark species, a great power which, you guessed it, SHOULD come with great responsibility”.

Time and time again we are faced with hysterical and exaggerated articles about “monster” and “killer” sharks that seem to be deliberately intent on chomping on people at every chance (see The Actual Truth About White Shark Bites for the dissection of one such article). We all know that this is just not true, and is only used to entice readers and sell stories. However, some media organisations seem to have stepped up, taken responsibility and decided to report responsibly on shark stories. We have a recent examples of two headlines to illustrate the point:

“California shark attack victim recounts horror”

International Business Times, 08/06/2016

orrrrrrrr…

“Woman recalls shark bite, rescue off California coast”

Naples Herald, 07/06/2016

Two headlines, same story. One is sensationalised, hyperbolic and irresponsible, the other is factual, rational and responsible.

These two recent headlines encapsulate good and bad media coverage of a shark bite. While the  article that followed the poorly worded headline was nothing compared to some of the downright ludicrous and vitriolic articles we have seen, it could definitely take notes from the report written by Amy Taxin and Christopher Weber for the Naples Herald.

Instead of inciting hysteria by stating that shark “attacks” are increasing globally, Taxin and Weber chose to point out the fact that sharks bites are incredibly rare, and quoted Dr. Christopher Lowe,director of the Shark Lab at California State University; “There are more great white sharks in the waters off California thanks to protective measures, and the human population has also grown, so occasional encounters happen”.

SharkStuff has decided that enough is enough, and we would like to help empower you to make a change to the way in which sharks are covered in the media. We’ve put together a Responsible Reporting Template, which you can easily download and send to any media organisation that distributes irresponsible shark stories. The template contains evidence from scientific literature and suggestions on how shark stories should be reported on. Each and every use will count towards effecting positive change for sharks.

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