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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Media KATU Loves Hummers

Posted by Scott Moore on Thu, May 17 at 3:05 PM

On last night’s late news, KATU (whose building I can see through my window right now) aired the most horrifyingly asinine segment I’ve ever seen on a television news show.

Called “Hummer Vs. Hybrid,” the piece profiled Art Spinella of Oregon-based CNW Marketing Research, who put out a report last year claiming that Hummers (as in the paramilitary SUVs) are better for the environment than hybrid cars. Spinella, who, BTW, makes a living doing market research for automobile companies, allegedly looked at the full cycle of development for both vehicles, including manufacturing, research & development, how far employees had to drive to get to the factory (!), etc. Only problem: CNW won’t divulge its research methodology, so it’s not peer-reviewed, or even verifiable.

The piece that ties it all together is the lifespan of the vehicles. The report claims that the average lifespan of a hybrid is 100,000 miles, as opposed to 240,000 for SUVs. That’s a convenient piece of mathematic wizardry with no public methodology to back it up. If anything, it’s based on the fact that hybrid owners are more likely to drive fewer miles per year than Hummer owners (you know, because they’re not fat-assed morons), so that after, say, 15 years, the average hybrid will have fewer miles on it. Perhaps as few as 100,000.


The bottom line: This “report” was ripped to shreds a year ago (see here, here, and here). KATU presenting Spinella’s report as legitimate is like the Bush Administration trotting out a couple of “scientists” who don’t believe in global warming and then claiming that the scientific community is “split.” One of the newscasters (during the insufferable pre-commercial chitchat they always do) even says, “Well I guess it just depends which side you’re on!” Right. It depends whether you’re on the side of science and verifiable research, or whether you’re a gullible dunce who’ll swallow whatever you’re told.

Two side notes:

1. When I first opened the video link to the story, it was prefaced by an ad for the Ford Edge—a small SUV. A banner for the Edge also lined the bottom of the screen.

2. Not counting KATU-branded vehicles, there are currently 25 SUVs, vans, and trucks in the KATU parking lot.


Scott: That is a great report.I heard KATU's teasers all day on the radio.I am glad that I missed it and read your blog instead.Thanks for the links that put that right-wing/conservative argument to rest.

This pisses me off so much I'm cross-posting. Some bonehead on my blog actually said this when I pointed to this entry:

"Honestly, isn't the job of ALL news organizations to report stories that get you thinking? In this case, get you thinking about the possibilities that all those Prius owners are causing more harm than good. Of course it's a lame argument, but an argument indeed. I even think the "other side" was represented once or twice. The story was not intended to argue this story was correct, only to get you to watch and then talk about it. Mission Accomplished."

And that person probably works in the biz. God help us all. GOD HELP US ALL.

The unfortunate part is that the people who believe this report are the people that get their daily dose of real-world information from five minutes of TV news. They'll never even consider the option of researching it for themselves. This same report was referenced in the O's letter page not long ago and promptly ripped to shreds the next day by 3 or 4 people, I think it's the same one anyway.

Radio stations do it, too, with their Hummer promo vehicles. I'm looking at you KUFO. Bastards.

This is an obvious attempt by KATU to use their news room to flack for sponsorships.

That is, it's pretty clear they're using this ridiculous "report" to shill for Gore and promote his new book, The Assault on Reason. I mean, do they really expect us to believe professional reporters would legitimately run this? KATU is clearly beholden to the growing media criticism industry, and I for one, am not impressed.

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I was in the tv news business for years and I have to disagree with you on this. I don't believe this was an attempt to "flack for sponsorships". Though it may seem blurred at times, we reporters are still required to get all sides of the story, which I believe this one did. (There's still a matter of pride in the newsroom with your peers.) He explained the rational behind the study, interviewed the author, got comments from some who disagreed and put it on the plate for us to decide. It also posed the question of how environmentally friendly is any car in the building stage. Regarding the K2 SUV's, that seems like a silly comment. Larger cars are needed to haul tv equipment. Moreover, they weren't advocating the use of hummers or other SUV's in this piece. My last point is that 99% of the time, reporters come up with the stories themselves, so the idea that managers with only corporate interests in mind initiated this story is likely false.

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