Tagged irresponsible

Discovery continues to push shark attack footage…and it’s not even Shark Week

DiscoveryNetworks' Featured Videos on YouTube appear to focus on shark attacks on humans.
DiscoveryNetworks' Featured Videos on YouTube appear to focus on shark attacks on humans.

It seems that Discovery Networks’ fixation on promoting shark attack footage has stretched beyond their annual Shark Week. Today while browsing through YouTube for recent shark-related videos, I was presented with “Featured Videos” ads from DiscoveryNetworks‘ YouTube channel. I guess it shouldn’t really come as any surprise that Discovery is continuing to push shark attack footage on YouTube. Their promotion of Shark Week 2009 was centered around over-the-top fictionalized shark on human violence, including cheesy videos of fake shark attacks, which appeared on YouTube.

It should be noted that these shark attack ads for showed up while searching on the term “shark” (not “shark attack”) using the “upload date” filter, despite the fact that the videos are listed as being uploaded “1 year ago.” Of course, I realize this all part of YouTube’s marketing of “Featured Videos,” but Discovery Networks certainly has a hand in which videos are promoted. Two shark attack videos certainly seem like odd choices for a company that claims to be conservation-minded.

National Geographic joining in on unnecessary sensationalism on YouTube?

The official National Geographic YouTube Channel posted a video today documenting a rescue effort to help an injured sand tiger shark. The approximately 10′ (3m) female sand tiger had a fishing gaff embedded in her throat.

While the video itself plays on the drama and danger of the situation, it still manages to do a fairly good job of avoiding portraying the shark in a negative manner. Unfortunately, it seems that whoever wrote the description of this (otherwise shark-conscious) video simply could not resist the urge to add some negative hype. The video description currently reads…

A rescue team performs emergency surgery on a MAN-EATING Sand Tiger Shark – but they have to catch it first.

Is it really necessary (or even accurate) to refer to a sand tiger shark as “man-eating?” Sand tigers are generally regarded as being non-aggressive around humans and simply do not have a history of being “man-eaters.” While this kind of over-the-top hype seems commonplace among The Discovery Channel’s recent shark-related programming, I still expect better from National Geographic.

Sensationlism and misrepresentation at its worst

And the winner (or is it loser?) is…ContactMusic." Why is Contact Music reporting a story about sharks in the first place?" you might ask. Well, it’s Steven Spielberg related news, of course. He directed that shark movie back in ’75. What was it called again? Oh yes, “Jaws.” That’s the one. Hence, any story regarding great white sharks should automatically be associated with Spielberg (in the eyes of some media outlets, at least).

Real-life great white sharks, like this one and the ones recently spotted near Chatham, are often times confused with the large, fake, mechanical shark featured in the movie, Jaws, by some media outlets.
Real-life great white sharks, like this one and the ones recently spotted near Chatham, are often times confused with the large, fake, mechanical shark featured in the movie, Jaws, by some media outlets.

ContactMusic’s article, “Jaws sightings close Massachusetts Beaches,” is about as utterly ridiculous as they come. Just to clarify the headline, multiple sightings of great white sharks near the coastline are what prompted the closing of several Chatham beaches, not sightings of the movie Jaws. The article goes so far as to say that the recent white shark sightings near Chatham, Massachusetts are "terrifying residents of nearby Martha’s Vineyard" (where Jaws was filmed). Say what? Was there any reporting done to substantiate the terror has fallen upon the residents of Martha’s Vineyard? It seems that the good people of Martha’s Vineyard wouldn’t be too fazed by white shark sightings, considering that there have been white sharks reported around the Vineyard repeatedly in recent years. I guess the white sharks around Chatham are more fear-inducing than the ones that were in closer proximity to Martha’s Vineyard in the past.

Thanks for spreading unnecessary fear, ContactMusic. Now, back to reality.

Media outlets reporting false shark attack fail to follow up with the true story

It’s been over a week since an incident involving an 11-year-old girl being bitten by a bluefish was falsely reported as a shark attack by multiple media outlets. Within less than 24 hours after the “story” broke, an AFP release revealed that “maritime experts later concluded that the bite suffered by the girl was too small to have been caused by a shark and was compatible instead with the marks that would be left by a bluefish.”

False accusations against a blue shark persist.
False accusations against a blue shark persist.

While it’s not uncommon for details of breaking news to be sketchy, if not entirely inaccurate, most media outlets tend to follow-up on a story when it turns out the story has been falsely or incorrectly reported. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case with the following publications:

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