Fracking Reports: Be a NEWS NANNY for BEGOS

Generally, the public has faith in the accuracy and reliability of AP stories and seldom reads beyond the headline and first couple of paragraphs.  However, it is more and more apparent the public needs to be a News Nanny and fact check ALL stories to determine how much is really fact and how much is fiction.nanny

A recent widely republished story about the Pennsylvania Fracking study is causing quite a stir.  You’ll find the same story, with slightly different headlines when you google it.

Some of the headlines are:

The source for this story is the Associated Press (AP) and its reporter Kevin Begos.

Yep, Begos slipped another one past the AP editors.

For a dissection of the Begos/AP story see: DOE: Fracks Can Hit Aquifers !   Begos left out or buried pertinent information way down in his original story.

Such as:

“Seismic monitoring determined one hydraulic fracture traveled 1,800 feet out from the well bore. That’s significant because some environmental groups have questioned whether the fractures could go all the way to the surface. The researchers believe that fracture may have hit naturally occurring faults.”

This is important because the frack does not have to go “all the way to the surface.” It just has to hit an aquifer. Since 1,800 feet would be more than sufficient for a shallow gas well to hit a deep water aquifer – which is what probably happened in Pavilion, Wyoming.

Also read a report from Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) 2008 Historical Perspective of Hydraulic Fracturing with special attention to PAGE 64.

SPE-64AP is an American multinational non-profit news agency owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations.  The stories are written by its staff journalists and shared across its network.

In essence, the AP is a self-contained echo chamber. This ensures the widest possible blast of any given story.  Whether the story is fact or fiction is another matter.

VARIATIONS ON A THEME

I GIVE A BIG HAT TIP TO TX SHARON  at BlueDaze Drilling Reform for this:hattip

Looking at Bego’s resume you see that he dropped out of journalism for a long time and worked for a commercial fishing group in the Gulf that rallied against seafood regulation. Does this look/sound familiar?

Or this:

Kevin Begos, director of the Franklin County Oyster & Seafood Task Force in Apalachicola, Fla., says the CSPI has “no clue” about how the oyster industry works.

“It’s none of CSPI’s business to tell consumers what type of oysters they should choose. It’s incredibly arrogant of them,” Begos says. “There are people who choose to skydive, believing their parachutes will always open. I would never ride a motorcycle, but I don’t think we should ban them.”

– See more at:  The FDA’s plans to restrict raw Gulf Oyster sales has the industry and oyster lovers saying….

It’s familiar because Begos repeats the above theme of questioning the science and/or the belief in the science when it comes to the natural gas industry critics.

HISTORY OF CHERRY PICKING

In 2012 Begos/AP ran “Experts: Some fracking critics use bad science“.  (Headlines may vary if you google it.)

Critics of fracking often raise alarms about groundwater pollution, air pollution, and cancer risks, and there are still many uncertainties. But some of the claims have little — or nothing— to back them.

For example, reports that breast cancer rates rose in a region with heavy gas drilling are false, researchers told The Associated Press.

According to Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe’s blog post “Link-and-Twist: ethical reporting on health impacts and breast cancer”: (emphasis added)

After Josh Fox referenced  the story in 2012 in “The Sky is Pink,” an Associated Press reporter in Pennsylvania got a Texas-sized hitch in his git-along over it.

How huge? I endured a week of emails as this reporter tried, but couldn’t (or wouldn’t), find the original report with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the concern over breast cancer rates in North Texas and flat-out ignored the report on the uptick in breast cancers in Flower Mound. Then, he tried to cook up numbers of his own through the Texas Cancer Registry and fell flat.

That clunky AP story should not derail this important conversation about breast cancer and the North Texas environment, because it offers no numbers, just odd quotes of alternate experts a full year after the original story ran.

In addition to cherry picking, and seemingly taking dictation from the industry (ala Judith Miller style), Begos seems to have an aversion to or inability to using “the google”  to do his own research and gather facts.

The emerging picture is we all have to be a NEWS NANNY when it comes to Begos/AP stories.   My rule of thumb is to ignore half of what I read and fact check the rest, and any Begos story just begs to be fact checked.

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© 2013 by Dory Hippauf

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