Thursday, June 17, 2010

Media slant against Pit Bulls

From ASPCA, Pit Bull Bias in the Media;

Animal control officers across the country have told the ASPCA that when they alert the media to a dog attack, news outlets respond that they have no interest in reporting on the incident unless it involved a pit bull. A quantitative study by the National Canine Resource Council of dog-bite reportage in a four-day period proves that anti-pit bull bias in the media is more than just a theory—it’s a fact.

1. August 18, 2007—A Labrador mix attacked a 70-year-old man, sending him to the hospital in critical condition. Police officers arrived at the scene and the dog was shot after charging the officers. This incident was reported in one article in the local paper.

2. August 19, 2007—A 16-month-old child received fatal head and neck injuries after being attacked by a mixed-breed dog. This attack was reported on twice by the local paper.

3. August 20, 2007—A six-year-old boy was hospitalized after having his ear torn off and receiving a severe bite to the head by a medium-sized, mixed-breed dog. This incident was reported in one article in the local paper.

4. August 21, 2007—A 59-year-old woman was attacked in her home by two pit bulls and was hospitalized with severe, but not fatal, injuries. This attack was reported in over 230 articles in national and international newspapers, as well as major television news networks including CNN, MSNBC and FOX.

Along with over-reporting, false reporting is a major contributor to the public relations nightmare currently facing pit bulls. There is an emerging tendency for all short-haired, stocky dogs to be called pit bulls—and when a dangerous dog’s breed is unknown, the media is not above assuming that the dog involved must have been a pit bull. The National Canine Resource Council terms this phenomenon “Everything is a pit bull, whether it is or not.” In the rush to publish, the pit bull label is often inaccurately applied—and even if a correction is later made, the damage is done. Not all media bias is necessarily intentional, but it forms an impression on the public and on legislators nonetheless.


Anonymous said...

Why does this not surprise me? Oh, yeah -- growing up in a newspaper family, right....

Jennie said...

And don't forget that positive or sympathetic media coverage of pit bulls also tends to be limited. For example, recently in Philadelphia a mix-breed-labeled-pit-bull bit a horse pulling a carriage and almost all of the over 35 news articles that carried the story had the words "Pit Bull" in the title. Compare this to the story of a Pit Bull who was hung to death on a playground in northern Philadelphia on Monday - only 1 article has the words "Pit Bull" in the title