Alan Caruba, a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) for over 30 years and founder of The National Anxiety Center, which serves as a clearinghouse to debunk mainstream media “scare campaigns,” took ABC News to task for its recent reporting on the food industry.
“Someone needs to send a copy of SPJ’s Code of Ethics to the news staff of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC),” Caruba wrote in a blog posting.
In particular, Caruba highlighted ABC’s reporting on “pink slime,” which he notes has caused hundreds of job losses and potentially destroyed a business in the meat industry.
ABC reporter Jim Avila did a series of reports about “pink slime” and ABC, according to Caruba, used the term 52 times in a two-week period in March even though “any reporter investigating BPI would have swiftly found a mountain of evidence exonerating the company from any hint of the allegations made against it.”
In an April Bloomberg Business Week article, reporters Bryan Gruley and Elizabeth Campbell concluded BPI had been “slimed” by the mainstream media and noted BPI’s meats had been purchased by by McDonald’s, Wal-Mart Stores, Burger King, Kroger, Taco Bell. So, essentially, anyone who had eaten at any of these places during the last twenty years consumed the meat that was suddenly put in question.
ABC’s reporting put “BPI in jeopardy of closing down entirely, forcing the suspension of business at plants in Texas, Kansas, and Iowa, while the headquarters plant in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, struggles to continue operations.”
Caruba notes 650 employees have lost their jobs with several thousand more jobs at risk at companies that relied on BPI, which impacts families and communities, especially in a down economy.
Caruba then accuses ABC News and Avila of engaging in similar malpractice when reporting on “super bugs” in chicken it alleged could lead to urinary infections. ABC, according to Caruba, ran the report even though it acknowledged in the report that “there is no study showing a definitive link between the presence of e-coli in chicken and infection in women…”
This alarmed viewers, even though, as Caruba notes, “cooking meat properly is a 10,000 year-old practice, but when someone forgets to do it, Avila and ABC thinks it is news.”
“What happened to BPI can happen any time a reporter like Avila dispenses with the most fundamental standards of journalism,” Caruba wrote, saying these incidents were hallmarks of ABC News. “The ABC News product increasingly ceases to be journalism. It is sensationalism. It is reprehensible. It’s time to let ABC News feel the sting of public disapproval.”