Tag Archives: public hysteria

Oil spill damage–let the backtracking begin

Here at least is a scientist with some integrity and honesty. Dr. Crozier, an expert on Gulf of Mexico ecology, admits that he played a role in creating a doomsday scenario around the Gulf spill, a scenario that is proving to be wrong. Before I go further and get attacked for “defending BP” full disclosure–I’ve worked with BP for years and have supported them in this spill, so I will say as I have said before that the spill should never have happened, that the damage created is horrendous, and it is tragic to see the impact on people’s lives and the environment. However, now it is becoming quite clear that much of the reporting and public reaction was overblown.

That is not at all surprising and is totally to be expected. It is how I try to advise clients if they find themselves with the black hat on in a major disaster such as this. Why? Because the media is in a hyper-competitive environment and they fight every day against every other media outlet (including social media and blogs) to get attention–it is the only way they are going to survive. They do it by playing on the three things certain to get attention: FUD–fear, uncertainty and doubt. You don’t win the media war by saying, hey everyone, things are looking pretty rosy. Now, they don’t “create” the news. But they do find “experts” who will say what needs to be said in order to generate a headline or a TV teaser certain to get attention. And the likes of Dr. Crozier and many others provided that opportunity.

It’s just the way things are. But two things really bother me about this. One, is the public never seems to understand this and take this game into consideration in their perceptions of an event. Which is why I am so adamant about going direct with your information at every opportunity. I read reecently (and I’m going to look at the research closer) that the public is pretty happy with the coverage on the spill. They shouldn’t be–but how would they know how much misinformation is conveyed if no one will counter it? Second thing is the media never admits culpability. Unlike Dr. Crozier who is willing to admit that he played a part in creating hysteria, he was a tool, a pawn so to speak, in the hands of the media who had everything to gain from this hysteria. I just wish someone, maybe even NYT, would come around to saying, you know, some of our reporting was a little overheated. Ain’t gonna happen.