NBC Today has thrown their hat into the ring in what appears to be an attempt to outdo the level of sensationalism found in some of the other reports of Queensland’s supposed “Monster Shark.”
The Today Show segment goes all-out with unrelenting Jaws references, the Jaws soundtrack, and some of the more ridiculous interview clips from other reports (including my favorite, “If they’re going to grab something as big as another shark, they’re definitely going to grab my daughter.”. The Today Show on-air personalities even join in on the Jaws-based hysteria, at the end of the segment. To the Today Show’s credit they do mention that the shark in Jaws is “mythical.” I’m glad they are at least aware that it’s just a movie.
One would think that a reputable network news program like NBC today would have at least taken the time to research the story before running wild with it, but apparently that wouldn’t have put a damper on the whole 20′ great white shark angle.
Fortunately, the good folks over Underwater Thrills: Swimming with Sharks decided to take the time to contact various agencies in Australia about the story and were told by Tony Ham, The Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries manager, that the shark in photo was “a confirmed 3.3 meter (10′) white shark, caught by our contractor, he measured the primary bite mark at 50 centimeters.” However, Ham went on to say that his team estimated that based on the bite marks, the feeding shark was in the 5-5.2 meter (16-17′) range. Even the Courier Mail who first ran the image of the mauled shark on October 24, have marveled at how the feeding shark seems to have magically grown since the story first broke.
Now, I’m only speculating here, but I think that NBC’s Today show probably has a larger operating budget than the Underwater Thrills: Swimming with Sharks blog. So, why is it that a shark blog was able to track down some legitimate information about this story, while a media giant seemed to be incapable of looking past a overly-sensational depiction of the story? My opinion is that NBC’s Today show was simply looking for a shock and awe story, so journalistic responsibility was cast aside for some good old fashioned fear, which really seems to draw in an audience, for some reason.