Rather than break down all of these stories as we often do, we at The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals thought it would be time to offer up some tips for journalists (and bloggers) on reporting about wildlife issues.
When you search for an expert – be it in a blue book or with Google – check up on them. Find out what studies they’ve done, who has paid for them and whether or not they have an obvious bias. Also remember that there’s more than one expert on any given subject – and they’ll often have different experiences or opinions.
Non-profits can offer insight
Experts don’t have to be professors at universities. Non-profits can provide insight into subjects that they specialize in – whether it’s practical solutions to conflict situations or historical perspectives.
Do the research
Just because an industry says they’re doing well, does not mean they are. A story about trappers expecting a good 2015 was a little silly – especially when fur prices are plummeting worldwide. A bit of simple research can prevent an embarrassing story for going to air or print.
Two sides to the story
The two sides of the story adage is a good starting point for reporters still in school. But the reality is there are often more than two sides to stories – and it’s the responsibility of a journalist to find them all.
Read this before you do anything else
A few years ago a group of scientists came together and measured the issues with wildlife coverage in the media – and then they created a guide, based on documents from the Society for Professional Journalism. Read it and live by it. Then we can all be friends.
Journalism is absolutely essential to our modern democracy. But irresponsible journalism can be outright dangerous – for the reporters, for the subjects and for the animals.