The BP oil spill
Want to know who is really responsible for Florida's losses from the BP oil spill?
Have you noticed that nearly all of the events of the world today are reported in the media as sensationally as possible, either omitting pertinent facts or wildly speculating on the affect the news will have on our lives? How many so-called news stories on television and in print use the word "may" or "might" when they try to tell us the dire impact of the news story in question? How many cases of persons arrested for heinous crimes are trumpeted in indignant fashion, usually devoid of any investigation of the facts as they are presented from law enforcement? In many of those cases, charges are never filed against the person arrested because upon competent investigation, the evidence doesn't match the allegation, but the damage is done to the unfortunate person's reputation. No mention is made in the media of those cases.
From the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to events at home, the news is exaggerated, embellished or speculated on to the point where it's not worth watching or reading.
Largely, the media cries "Wolf!" on nearly every issue they report on.
Case in point: The BP oil spill. The media was on top of this incident, as was necessary and proper, from nearly the beginning. The incident and the subsequent headlines played well with the not-in-my-backyard anti-drilling zealots. But the coverage of the spill has done more to cost the people of the Gulf Coast region than the actual spill itself. Rather than questioning the suspicious timing of the event (it happened the day before "Earth Day" and the lunatic fringe of environmentalists have a record of causing disasters to emphasize their agendas), coverage of the oil spill began immediately with the usual talking heads screaming their predictable "what-if" scenarios. This, in effect, killed the tourism in Florida for 2010 as effectively as if there had been a "Closed" sign posted at our borders. Tourism, for those of you who have been living in a cave or who may have just arrived from the moon, is what fuel's Florida's economy.
Media predictions of our 1,197 miles of coastline being fouled beyond redemption by the oil spill caused untold numbers of spring and summer vacationers to change their destinations. Those vacationers headed to Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf or Franklin counties may have had realistic concerns. The hoteliers there, as well as the other parts of the hospitality industry, should be rightfully compensated by BP for their losses.
The fact of the matter is that with the exception of the Florida Panhandle, the beaches of Florida remain untouched by the oil from the BP spill. When tar balls washed up in the Keys, the media was there to trumpet that occurrence, ignoring the fact that tar balls washing up on the Keys are a regular happenstance and were in no way whatsoever connected with the BP spill. Had they asked oceanographers intelligent questions, like, say, what are the affects of the known, proven and historical currents in the Gulf of Mexico likely to do with the spilled oil, they might have (but probably wouldn't have) responsibly reported that in the absence of major storm activity, the majority of the oil that did not wash ashore on the closest beaches and marshes in Louisiana would drift around the Florida Keys into the Florida Straits and from there into the Gulf Stream, which would carry the oil north and into the Atlantic, without touching the Florida coastline south of the Panhandle. But that kind of reporting wouldn't feed the frenzy of short-attention-span Americans, sell the papers, stir up the activists, and above all else, blame George Bush, Dick Cheney and Halliburton!
Florida fishermen, those who fish for their livelihoods as well as those that carry tourist fishermen, have taken hits in their collective wallets because of the public perception that the seafood harvested from our waters are not fit to eat. This couldn't be further from the truth. But fanned by the media's irresponsible reporting, our fishermen are suffering. These fisherman, as well as the hoteliers and other hospitality industry workers in Florida that are likewise suffering from the drought of tourists, should be recompensed for their losses by the true source of their misfortune: the media.
Look no further than the media reporting about every tropical hiccup, whether it develops into a tropical depression, tropical storm or hurricane. Tropical Storm Bonnie, our latest disaster in waiting, fizzled. But the hype that went into the reporting of that storm system, with the computer models offering an opinion of where the storm would go, tried to convince us we would have a major storm on our hands. Emergency Operations Centers were staffed and emergency action plans were dusted off, all for naught. This costs money, people.
Don't get me wrong, there is no substitute for being prepared for disasters. This is why our loss of life is so miniscule compared to underdeveloped nations that have no warning systems. But let's keep these pending doom reports in perspective. When a tropical storm system that will brush through the Everglades pops up on the radar, that's not really stop-the-presses, panic-the-populace news. On the other hand, a storm that reaches hurricane strength before it gets to the islands off our shores (Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the Bahamas and Cuba for the geographically challenged) is cause to sound the alarm. Common sense should dictate that people should take whatever steps they need to secure their property and persons.
I know, I know. Common sense isn't common. But that's all part of natural selection. If you aren't smart enough to take care of yourself, nature will. In 2004, when Florida really took it in the shorts from back-to-back hurricanes, we got a taste of what could really happen to us. If people make the choice to not pay attention when legitimate warnings are sounded, there is a section of the newspaper where you will find their names listed alphabetically.
Has nobody figured out that the hurricane predictors haven't any more of a cogent idea of how many hurricanes we're going to have in any given year then Pat Robertson does?
All those fantastically wild speculations that we are going to have 57 named storms and 35 hurricanes, when fanned into "the sky is falling" gloom and doom reports by the media, do little more than make our insurance rates go up! Those reports, by the way, are published by some pointy-headed professors in Colorado. Colorado's last hurricane was when? And when the high numbers of predicted disasters fail to materialize, do we get our premium increases back? Of course not! That money goes into the pockets of those "too big to fail" insurance companies that just made off with our tax dollars in bailout money. And guess what? They will want more and more of your money to insure your property next year. Perhaps if our media downplayed the speculative reports of these so-called experts who prove to be way out in left field, our insurance rates will level out or drop.
Until the media is held accountable for their actions and made to pay for the problems they cause, they won't straighten up. One day, the wolf will really be here, and nobody will pay attention to the media because of all the bogus "wolf" calls over the years. And yes, I attended journalism school, at one of the more prestigious schools, in Peabody Hall. I quickly changed programs when I saw, 30 years ago, how journalism students were taught to slant their reporting in favor of liberal agendas.
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