Update, correction and apologies

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Tonight's supper

The producer of CBC radio’s Halifax-based,  Mainstreet says I unfairly criticized an interview on the state of the oceans that aired last week.  My headline read: “CBC’s biased question: Why should we care?”

In an e-mail today, Alex Mason points out that the program’s host, Stephanie Domet did not ask that question. Her guest, marine biology professor Jeff Hutchings discussed why people should care about mass extinction in the world’s oceans, but he introduced the idea on his own.

Domet then picked up on it and mentioned the word care in two of her follow-up questions:

1. “…what can people who care do to try to get this on somebody’s radar?”

2. “Meantime for somebody who’s listening and thinking that they do want to somehow show up in a poll saying that they care about the oceans, what’s something easy somebody could do?”

Having listened to the interview again, I agree that I was wrong when I wrote that Professor Hutchings “was caught trying to answer a biased question that was a large part of the interview’s focus: Why should Canadians care about the possibility of the mass extinction of ocean life?” While there was a lot of discussion during the interview about why people should care, it did not arise because of the direct question, “Why should we care?”

Professor Hutchings pointed out in an e-mail of his own that the question is fundamentally important because politicians and decision makers often ask it as they weigh competing priorities and they need answers to persuade colleagues that taking action is important.

So, I’m now eating a large helping of humble pie.

I do stand by one statement, however: “Hutchings is a passionate, articulate and extremely knowledgeable scientist who speaks out regularly against the rampant destruction of ocean life and the lack of political will to do enough to stop it.”

That’s what he was doing last week and I unfairly criticized him for it.

Apologies all round.

About Bruce Wark

Bruce Wark is a freelance journalist and retired journalism professor who lives in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada. He taught the history and ethics of journalism at the University of King's College in Halifax, Nova Scotia for 15 years. Before that, he worked for 19 years at CBC Radio news serving as a producer in charge of such network programs as World at Six, World Report and The House. He also produced Media File, a national program that looked critically at the performance of the news media. Along the way, Wark also worked as CBC Radio's legislative reporter in Ontario and as its National Reporter in Canada's Maritime provinces.
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