Friday, January 16, 2009

Media Coverage of Ecology: getting the balance right

As a filmmaker and nature advocate, I am always interested in how environmental issues are presented by the media to the general public: Are they trying to develop public awareness? Are they only interested in a crisis or some sort of catastrophe before they show interest? The cynical viewpoint would say, yes, they only look for negative events; a situation not without a measure of truth when you consider shark issues are most often discussed following a shark-human incident.

San Diego's CBS affiliate, KFMB, has developed a fine example of ongoing environmental coverage with its web site, Earth 8, which can be accessed by itself or from a link in the main KFMB/CBS web site. I became aware of the site following my recent screening of Island of the Great White Shark at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. KFMB's Natasha Stenbock interviewed me about the film and the white sharks of Isla Guadalupe. The end result, I felt, was a very balanced piece of reporting.

Click here to see the Earth 8 web site.
Click here to see the video/print segment covering white sharks.

Also, as additional media coverage for the screening, I conducted interviews on morning shows for KUSI, San Diego 6 (CW), and Fox 5. While San Diego's interest in sharks due to the April '08 fatality of a local veteran/triathalon swimmer is still close to the surface, I was pleased to find a balanced concern for the shark's critical role as an apex predator and the decline of shark populations worldwide.

Click here to see KUSI coverage.
Click here to see San Diego 6 coverage.
Click here to see Fox 8 coverage (go to video section and type "sharks" in search window.)

Hopefully the media will continue to take a serious and responsible look at environmental and ecological issues to help motivate public awarenbess along with ratings.

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