Thursday, 1 May 2008

How NOT to report a shark attack.

It ranks amongst my most disliked journalistic misrepresentations of the truth. Imprecise terminology that conveys an initial impression which is wildly different from what is actually going on. Case in point: "Authorities used baited hooks to catch sharks " - if you read the rest of that article, there is no mention of these authorities wading out into the surf in top hats and regalia muttering "Right! You have killed a man and I will bring you to justice, shark!"

In fact, a Naval COmmander issued an order, which was relayed down a chain of command to probably a seaman who did the actual hook and line setting. Even the headline is bullshit: "Mexico hunts sharks after attack" is NOT what has happened. The land itself hasn't risen up in a mighty protest against shark's inhumanity to man, nor has the entire population (not even a majority, unless the majority of Mexicans happen to be "authorities" who all hit the beach with fishing line and hooks in their hand, causing South America to tilt) risen up against the tyranny of the cruel sea.

Nope. Someone gave an order which was passed down several rungs of the command chain and then some poor sod got the job of catching a shark that can be suitably dragged through the town square behind that authority's horse. Or destroyer. Or whatever other fact the journalist forgot to actually report on.

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