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STUDY: How Journalism Fails Non-Human Animals

The bulk of the attention of most news articles focuses on the legal regulation of animals and speciesism is, at worst, a necessary evil and at best, simply part of life.

TRENT DAVIDSON: ‘A  research study discusses strategies used by the New York Times and El País — a Spanish newspaper — to mask or otherwise obscure the issue of speciesism in the global diet. Specifically, the researchers use a method known as critical discourse analysis to look at how non-human animals are represented in articles from these outlets, focusing on the language used and how the articles frame the human-animal relationship. Ultimately, they find intense speciesism in both the papers, but distinguish between the “crude speciesism” in the latter versus the “camouflaged” variety in the former…

The authors collected a sample of 30 articles from each paper over a two-year period, searching for pieces that focused on how these animals were exploited for human purposes during their lifetimes. This allowed the authors to focus on the suffering the animals actually experienced and how this was treated by the media. Khazaal and Almiron’s main findings are twofold: first, that the bulk of the attention of most of the articles focused on legal regulation, rather than reform, of animal rights; secondly, that speciesism is, at worst, a necessary evil and at best, simply part of life…

El País relied heavily on crude speciesism, using alarmist language meant to instill fear of economic collapse should animal welfare improve through legislation. Additionally, El País obscured the experiences of non-human animals used for food by misrepresenting their living conditions, naming them only by their purpose to humans (e.g. “milk cows” or “laying hens”), and valorizing humans who worked directly in the agriculture and aquaculture industries (e.g. by referring to tuna fisherman as “Fishing Warriors”).

By contrast, the New York Times employed camouflaged speciesism by portraying the industries of animal consumption more ethically than, in fact, they are. As the name implies, this strategy is more subtle. It uses methods such as giving animals more charming, human names, emphasizing marginal improvements introduced begrudgingly by the meat industry, and depicting the lived experiences of non-human animals used for food to be much rosier than the reality’.  SOURCE…


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