I doubt it, but it could happen. It should happen. After all, Blitzer is an Emmy award-winning anchor for CNN and is also a recipient of the Peabody award for his Hurricane Katrina coverage, the Alfred I. duPont Award for his coverage of the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia and an Edward R. Murrow Award for CNN’s September 11 coverage. Let’s hear his own words of advice to CNN iReporters (their citizen journalist program) on asking questions:
Q: What tips do you have for getting people to get comfortable and open up?
A: My rule of thumb is to be polite but firm in asking the questions and trying to make sure I get the answers.
Q: What is the one piece of advice you wish you were taught about interviewing that you had to learn on your own?
A: The most important thing is to listen to the answer and follow up when appropriate.
Why shouldn’t we expect Wolf to listen to the answers and follow up? After all, the man is paid two million dollars a year by CNN. We don’t expect it because the people who pay him and selected him for this moderator position don’t really want journalism. Read the rest of this entry →
Then I read the CNN story. Kindra describes some of the tricks BP uses on the public, but one trick they use on journalists is the most deadly. They use journalism conventions and appeals to authority to shut down any follow up.
In just 16 words BP has stopped CNN from digging into the issue of respirators. Here’s the power quote.
Graham MacEwen, a spokesman for BP, says the company isn’t providing masks because their air monitoring shows there’s no health threats to workers.
This is a great comment from BP’s point of view. It answers the question and ignores the evidence. The reporter is too busy to drill down into the statement to find the problems with it.
"Their air monitoring shows there’s no health threats to workers."
Hmmm, who is doing their air monitoring? If CNN would have asked, they would find that BP has hired a private contractor, The Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health (CTEH), to monitor the air.
CTEH, has a history of giving corporations a pass when their products were toxic. They make decisions on what chemicals to monitor for and where to monitor, they can decide on how often to monitor. Because they work for BP they will not reveal that information to the public. The public probably has a right to know, but we won’t. And because we don’t know about CTEH’s monitoring we can’t have someone like Toxicologist Rikki Ott to review what they are doing. She could point out the maker of Corexit only recently revealed that Corexit is carcinogenic and absorbed through the skin.
One time I was making a suggestion to a CEO of a major computer company and he reminded me, "Remember which way the money flows Spocko." As a consultant whose income depends on keeping the CEO happy it’s hard to disappoint them or cost them money. BP signs CTEH’s checks.(Insert classic Upton Sinclair quote here) The point is they aren’t paid by the workers of the state of Louisiana or the United States of America. They may try to be professional, but with no oversight from others we won’t even know.
Who decides what is “safe”? The studies on what is safe are based on single chemical rat studies. They can point to “this chemical is fine at this level” this chemical is fine at this level” but they don’t do multiple chemicals at the same time. Synergy of chemicals can over load the human respiratory system.
This method of keeping the workers away from respirators relies on reporters’ and workers’ ignorance about the science and monitoring.
At this point I’m tempted to pull back and let the professional journalists do their job. If there were more people like Ariel Schwartz of Fast Company and Elana Schor of Greenwire writing I would. We are also lucky that citizen journalists like Johnny Colt were down there talking to workers and experts.
The problem is that many journalists won’t tell you the kind of details that Kindra did because, to quote Madge the manicurist, "You’re soaking in it!".
We must always remember that BP’s agenda is NOT the health and safety of the workers. The health and safety of the worker is also not the agenda of the journalists. They just want the story.
I’m glad tens of thousands of people have seen the video, the issue for me is still, "Which lever do I need to pull to get respirators and training for all workers?"
One thing I’m trying to do is get the mainstream media to read about Schor’s work on CTEH and Schwartz’ work on Corexit.
These days I’m not optimistic. How do we switch to the precautionary principle vs the “Get sick and we’ll pay you latter” principle?
I may ask the Coast Guard to get CTEH to come clean with all the info about their monitoring protocols. And then have someone from the EPA and an independent toxicologist who doesn’t work for BP look at it.
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