Tuesday, January 8, 2013

APM Marketplace's Bad "Promised Land" Fracking Journalism:Fire Scott Tong

In response to: APM Marketplace "Promised Land" Fracking Movie Report

Marketplace needs to fire Scott Tong for cause. This article violates basic standards of journalism.

Scott Tong says:
A plot twist at the end confirms the corporate villain. Ok -- bye bye reality. 
This was not presented as sarcasm.
For this statement to make any sense, Scott Tong must believe that our reality has NO corporate villains, or he is selfishly willing to benefit himself somehow even if it harms everyone else.

As a news organization dedicated to business news, APM Marketplace above all should know that our capitalism is littered with ample examples of such corporate villains. To have an attitude that is in such obvious conflict with we know is true suggests Scott Tong is happy to ignore evidence that conflicts with his preconceptions about what he thinks is true, or he knows the truth but wants to actively disinform the audience anyway.

Scott Tong also makes an extraordinary whopper of claim:
industry has fracked without incident for decades.
 
He lets this fish-tale of a proposition go completely unsupported in an entirely non-journalistic fashion.

If I knew nothing else about this situation, I could not help but notice this story seems to follow the common patterns of corrupted journalist seen today:
  1. Lobbyist front group makes false claims to press.
  2. "Journalist" asks no questions, challenges nothing, writes down claims as though he is just a stenographer.
  3. "Journalist" presents industry's false claims as "fact" to large audience by repeating them without doing any research that could have disproven false claims.
or
  1. Ideologue holds mental model of reality that has huge discrepancies with actual reality. These discrepancies are easily discernible to the common man.
  2. Ideologue gains access to a broadcast medium. Pretends to be a journalist or an analyst with a normally respectable opinion.
  3. Ideologue presents goofball claims as facts to large audience, abuses access to a broadcast vector to create false impression of credibility.
  4. Ideologue unjustly earns lots of attention for his verifiably incorrect ideas.
  5. Station does not notice or care the Ideologue is clearly wrong. Station may benefit from the false drama the Ideologue creates, willfully allows the corrupt situation it is fully aware of to continue.
If basic journalism had occurred here, there are some basic questions about the statement "industry has fracked without incident for decades." that Scott Tong would have provided answers to:
  • WHO:Name all the companies who have supposedly fracked safely. WHO:Are they same companies that want to frack now?
  • WHAT:Are these frackers using the same people, materials, equipment & methods now that have supposedly been used safely in the past?
  • WHAT:Were the very same mystery chemical that they want to use now used during the supposedly safe fracking?
  • WHEN:On what dates decades ago did this claimed safe fracking occur?
  • WHERE:Scott Tong should have provided the geographic coordinates for the locations of this supposed safe fracking of decades ago.
  • WHY:If fracking as it is understood today has truly been around "for decades", why are we only finding out about it now?
  • WHY:If past fracking similar to modern fracking has occurred, does it appear safe due to a lack of oversight at that time? Was there a comprehensive monitoring program put in place in advance to detect water contamination?
  • HOW:Do frackers use company specific chemical markers in their fluids so they can be held accountable when their chemicals show up in our drinking water?
  • HOW:Are frackers prohibited from conducting an operation unless EPA inspectors are present for the duration of the activity?
  • MONEY:Are there corrupt incentives? Do some landholders of towns that permit fracking take the money & run, so they never have to suffer the consequences of contaminated drinking water they leave behind for their neighbors?

This report was so bad, American Public Media needs to ascertain whether or not Scott Tong has any kind of financial interest in fracking or "good old boy" corruption network interest in pushing disinformation upon the audience.

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