Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Other Side To Nowhere

"The first casualty of war is the truth."
That includes of course, our war on wildlife.
What strikes one when reading the slew of propaganda articles coming out recently  promoting the cullings and harassment of geese and the destruction of their eggs is that most of the truth has literally flown the coop -- or, been thrown out the window.
One of the most flagrant examples of this (throw crap at the wall to see what sticks) mentality is the article and video posted below:
In it, the reporter wrongly describes the geese as "Canadian invaders that.....refuse to leave."
The video is comprised of an interview with a Border Collie owner who is paid to send her dogs chasing the "hundreds" of geese in the location.
But, the goose tormenter has to use binoculars to find any geese on the grounds and the video only shows ONE goose. 
The two border collies are running around and playfully chasing each other.
But, this is in fact, par for the course these days with the numerous articles that decry the "need" to harass and destroy geese, while the actual photos and videos only show between one or two geese on a lake or grass.
One has to wonder if the journalists actually LOOK at the very scenes they are supposedly reporting on?
Another example of this failure to apparently open one's eyes is this piece from yesterday's highly reputable New York Times
In it, the journalist reports that there are "40-50" geese at the Prospect Park lake.
But, the photo shows TWO geese on a large, empty lake being harassed by two people in a boat on one side and the Border Collie on the other.
One wonders if the reporter actually went to the site or even looked at the photo?
They say, "One picture's worth a thousand words."
But, to most journalists reporting on geese, their thousand words neither matches nor is worth the photos and videos that accompany the articles.
Perhaps were these articles about some trivial matter (such as the garb some celebrity wore at an event), these glaring errors and lack of attention to facts might be forgivable.
But, in many cases, the articles are a matter of life and death for wildlife, specifically, the tormented geese. 
Almost every day now, I spend time attempting to point out and correct the distortions, untruths and misstatements in said articles.
I do this, not to see my name on comment boards, but to try and deliver a message to the journalists:
That is, that you cannot just thrown words on a keyboard with the attitude that if no one contests them, then the words must be true.
Journalists are paid to research and report facts, not hyperbole, guesses and accusations disguised as fact in order to justify mass slaughters of animals or the needless tormenting of them.
As an advocate for geese, it seems there would be little that I would find in agreement with the USDA Director of Wildlife Services of NY state.
But, Martin Lowney is correct when saying that too often, "the media doesn't get the facts straight" and tends to "sensationalize."
But, more often than not, that "sensationalization" and misstatement of fact is to bolster  the rationalizations for killings and harassment of geese, not to contest or even question them.
I never took a course in writing or journalism.
Still, I remember reading or seeing somewhere that the first job of a reporter is to "get both sides of the story."
What is most disturbing in almost all these highly inflated and denigrating articles on geese, is that there is no other side presented
It is up to the advocates for animals to try and point out there IS another side to this issue via the comment sections that few people read. (Hopefully, the reporters do.)
I don't know what the answers are to this bastardization of facts or failure to present both side of an issue.
One might think that writing an Op Ed or opinion column defending the geese and then submitting it to a newspaper like the Times might be an option.
The question is, would they publish it?
I have actually attempted this a few times without success.
On the other hand, yesterday, the New York Times saw fit to publish a long, ranting and extremely irrational diatribe against ALL birds.
"All the News That's Fit to Print?"
Or, is it really, all the inflammatory and denigrating nonsense that is unfit for publication, much less actual reading?
Perhaps the real tragedy is that the media doesn't even realize there is another side to this issue.
And if that be the case, then the fault lies partially with us who have, despite all our efforts, failed to present it.
Pity the geese, who in reality, have no one to speak for them and present their case -- least of all, the press.  -- PCA

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