If you see media coverage of a dog-related issue that is inaccurate or unfair, you can take steps to respond.
- Respond as quickly as possible. Journalists operate on short news cycles, so if there is any hope of a correction or retraction, it must be addressed quickly.
- Read through our Media’s Role section and use the Media Guidelines section to articulate exactly what your concern is. If you are clear and concise in explaining what was inaccurate or unfair, there is a stronger chance that your information will be read and potentially acted on.
- Avoid making general statements like: “The media is always picking on pit bulls!” or “These dogs get a bad rap!” or “That story was unfair.” Although all of these statements may feel true, these are blanket statements that won’t be taken seriously, and a single reporter can’t be expected to answer for the entire media industry.
- Stay polite and keep your emotions in check. While you may feel frustrated, remember that the reporter is doing a job and may be unaware of the error or inaccuracy. They are trying to do a job, and rude, aggressive or inflammatory language will alienate them and make them less likely to respond. Some of the less scrupulous reporters may even use it as an example to perpetuate stereotypes about pit bull owners.
- Be specific about the error or inaccuracy so that the journalist can address it. For example, “Your report noted that this was a ‘pit bull’ attack, but it appears that this was based only on one witness. This is not a credible source of breed identification…” Include links to reputable sources to support your point(s).
- Contact the journalist or media outlet directly rather than just commenting on the article or post. Social media is a great tool, as many reporters are active on Twitter. A Twitter account or the article itself may list the reporter’s e-mail address. If there is no direct line of contact to the reporter, visit the media outlet’s website and contact the editor of the section (which we expect would be local or city news).
- Sometimes, the reporter will respond and have a conversation with you, which is a great way to open up dialogue. However, due to the volume of correspondence they receive, they may not respond or even read every e-mail they get. If you feel strongly about your case, you may wish to use social media to make your point more public, or publish an “open letter” to the editor and invite your followers to share it and tag/post on the news outlet’s page.
- Share your examples with us. We have an ongoing blog series analyzing reports in the media and will profile positive, negative and interesting examples of coverage. Please e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.