Responsible reporting of shark news might be possible, after all

Fox News (if you’re politically-inclined to avoid Fox News, fear not, these segments are both generally politic-free) ran a couple of fairly responsible news segments focusing the IUCN – International Union for the Conservation of Nature reporting that one-third of all sharks are threatened with extinction.

According to these segments, the deep-water open-ocean sharks are the most threatened (great white, great hammerhead, scalloped hammerhead, and mako are specifically mentioned in the report). The report identifies over-fishing, inadvertent netting of sharks, and illegal finning as reasons for the decline in shark numbers. Both segments make a point of informing the viewer that without sharks as a top-predator, entire marine ecosystems can die off. Both segments feature Phil Keating reporting from New Smyrna Beach, which seems a bit overplayed, considering that New Smyrna has been dubbed the “Shark Attack Capital of the World.” However, the overall theme of the segments does seem to be headed in the right direction when it comes to informing the audience about the serious threat to shark populations and the effect these losses can have on ocean life, in general.

The Final Fin does feature a couple of, “Did she really just say that?” moments from anchor, Megyn Kelly. The segment opens with Kelly saying that due to the decline in shark numbers people who fear shark attacks can “fear a little bit less this summer.” Kelly also states later in the segment that, “it’s tough to be a shark fan.” Kelly does, however, express that finning “just seems wrong.” Despite Kelly’s somewhat off-beat comments at times, reporter Phil Keating does a good job of keeping the report focused on shark conservation and the importance of sharks in the ecosystem. He also expresses that a unification of countries and individuals supporting shark conservation might help turn the tide in the battle against over-fishing and finning.

Predators in danger This segment features a lot of the same information from “Final Fin” but focuses more on shark research being conducted by the Mote Marine Laboratories. Again, the overall theme in this segment does tend to focus on declining shark numbers and remains fairly objective and conservation-minded. A “Sharks Threatened” banner appears throughout a large portion of the segment. The report even goes so far as to say while sharks “may scare you, they serve a critical purpose.” This is followed by Dr. Robert Heuter, Mote Shark Research Director, discussing the impacts of removing sharks from the ecosystem. Keating finishes the segment offering that it could be more beneficial to protect sharks rather than fear them.

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