DATE: 4/26/2004 08:44:00 AM
Environmental Journalism - The Bangor Daily News features an article on the growing problem of smog in Maine and the ineffectiveness of EPA rules to deal with it. This isn't unusual. What is unusual is the fact that there's not one voice that disagrees with the environmentalists quoted in the story. Here are the sources the reporter uses and their points of view:
Jerry Reid, Maine's assistant attorney general - Maine has a persistent ground-level ozone problem. Has taken action to sue the EPA
Sue Jones, Natural Resources Council of Maine - Calls the EPA guidelines and implementation schedule "a joke."
Matthew Davis, Environment Maine - Wants stronger enforcement of clean-air laws from the EPA. Says proposed rules will not work.
Ron Severance, Maine Department of Environmental Protection - Agrees there's a problem, but says Maine has to clean up its own act first.The closest thing to a dissenting voice in this story is Severance, and he's not actually disagreeing with the story's overall template - which is helpfully stated by the reporter in the lead:
Maine has a serious air quality problem, and the Bush administration policies announced last week will only make the situation worse.The reporter disingenuously tries to pass this statement off as a joint belief of "state environmental officials, representatives of Maine's congressional delegation, and members of health and environmental advocacy groups." No direct quote to this effect, but you know, it's so true that we don't really need to check it, right? I mean, everyone knows that the Bush administration is terror on the environment.
Personally, I think these groups may be onto something. When one stands at the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia, there is sometimes a vague haze in the distance that isn't quite smog, but definitely not fog. The presence of a potential problem, though, is still no excuse for writing such a slanted news story, for not even noticing that there's no one quoted who may have something to say that disagrees with the almost religious fervor of those who believe the Bush administration wants us all to choke to death on giant clouds of automotive emissions. There may be a problem with air quality, but there are differing ideas on what's causing it. Not examining those ideas in a news story about the issue is a failure on the part of the Bangor Daily News. After all, a newspaper is supposed to report on, not advocate for.