Crappy Environmental Reporting


Journalists talk frequently of burying the lede–of failing to begin a story with the actual news or point being conveyed. Here's a nice example of that from a recent Cincinnati Enquirer story that proclaims "Ohio's waters more polluted" and opens with this definitive statement:

More Ohio waterways are imperiled by pollution than two years ago, and only one river in the state meets federal clean water standards for swimming, fishing, boating and other recreational uses.

In the fourth paragraph comes this useful bit of information:

Linda Oros, spokeswoman for the Ohio EPA, said this year's report is worse because the analysis is tougher. Previous reports, she said, did not account for bacteria levels from sewage, or advisories against eating too much fish from polluted waterways.

So the real news is that the EPA is using a different type of analysis and issuing a different set of advisories. As Reason's Ron Bailey showed in a recent piece about the coverage of the latest salmon-PCB scare, it always pays to read news reports about pollution and the environment past the sensational, scare-mongering headlines.