Discovery Channel president admits to “playing with people’s fears”

A Cleveland.com article, Shark Week about to begin on the Discovery Channel, discusses how “the Discovery Channel every year charts a tricky course between exploiting our fear of sharks and demythologizing them.” The article makes the statement, “If ever an animal was burdened with an image problem, it’s the shark.”

Sharks like this white shark are facing an image problem, largely due to media portrayals of sharks as mindless man-eaters.
Sharks like this white shark are facing an image problem,
largely due to media portrayals of sharks as mindless man-eaters.

The article goes on to quote, John Ford, president and general manager of Discovery Channel, as saying the following…

“We do play off the fear to some degree.That’s good marketing. But we also give people solid information, and viewers understand that. We play with people’s fears, but we ultimately allay them. One thing we do is run regular public service spots about dangers facing shark populations. After all, if sharks could experience fear, they would be much more fearful of us.”

I wonder if by “us,” Ford meant humans, in general, or the Discovery Channel. Running public service announcements about the decline in shark populations during programming that is promoted primarily by media campaigns featuring fictitious shark attacks on humans (and even dogs) hardly makes sense (although, it will likely make plenty of “cents” for Discovery).

One comment

  1. Jeanne Nooney says:

    So, did the diver in this video actually touch the shark? And what did the divers “sense” about the animal during this encounter? Tolerance? Curiosity? Tentative socializing?
    Would love to hear their answers. Thanks.
    This gives me a new “look” at them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *