Thursday, March 4, 2010

Many Shades of Green

Coverage of a single story can vary greatly depending on an organization's editorial guidance. As seen with Coca-Cola's release of environmentally friendly bottles, two newspapers can approach the same topic with different questions, biases and focuses. In the coverage of Coca-Cola's green bottles, The Wall Street Journal and Recycling Today reported using two principles: the bottom line and the environment, respectively.

Surprisingly, the dissimilar publications make similar mistakes. One main editorial issue arose consistently: an overuse of Coca-Cola representatives.

This editorial missteps appears in Chris Herring's
The Wall Street Journal article, "Coke's New Bottle Is Part Plant." Herring's reporting is lazy and unfounded, using Coca-Cola's spokeswoman comments to fill a majority of the article. The entire first half of the article references the spokeswoman, who only acknowledges positive aspects of new bottle. Coca-Cola naysayers do not appear until the second half of the article.

Recycling Today, a publication driven by environmental ideals, makes a similar error to The Wall Street Journal. Recycling Today writer Dan Sandoval's article "The Real Thing" states that "in steps large and small...the company is helping boost recycling." That phrase parrots a recent Coca-Cola spokeswoman. This is a very interesting stance as environmental experts have criticized the move as a public relations stunt.

While it would be easy to accuse The Wall Street Journal of being a corporate trumpet, Recycling Today shows that the overuse of representative comments without verification is not a biased approached. Rather, it is lazy reporting.

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