Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter
From 7 May 2001 Issue:
PAWPRINTS, FOOTPRINTS & ANIMAL CHATTER
by Judith Marie Gansen
Animals and Truth
It is said that hard-hitting, investigative journalism is gone in these days of "sound bites" and media competition. There are still a few good journalists out there, however, who search for the truth to print. The hard part is for us to find them so that we can learn the truth!
I took a class once from a teacher who was outrageously rude but he taught me something that has stayed with me -- always check the source of what you read. Does the person writing the story or book have an agenda of their own? This may be hidden from us as readers which is why it pays to be well informed on all subjects. Is the writer logical and the writing intelligently presented? In the case of research done at a university -- was it funded by someone who has a monetary interest in the outcome of the research? Is there a conflict of interest? Are there politics involved? These are things we need to look for in searching for the truth about any issue.
People have said to me "anyone can write a book." Absolutely. But I don't just read any author's book! I read the author's background to find out what kind of educational background there is on the person, etc. Where did this person work? Church affiliation -- could this be a religious agenda and if so what kind? If it's a website -- who put it up? Of course that doesn't mean that all PHDS have intelligent things to say. Nor does it mean that someone without a college education is ignorant. What shocks me are the number of people who read anything and assume it is true because it is in a printed word. How many ignorant ideas float around out there because someone who was an "expert" on animals wrote something about them? Or did this person want to recruit people to think about animals as disposable objects because they are somehow associated with an industry that benefits from their exploitation?
Our city newspaper is famous for taking an anti-animal perspective, particularly with wildlife. Raccoons have been mentioned as being "varmints," deer only get press if they destroy crops or crash through a window, etc. Our paper, like many other papers, is a business that accepts advertising from businesses that profit from the killing and/or exploitation of animals and is staffed by many hunters -- you don't suppose there is a connection there and that is why animals get so much bad press???
When I first began getting materials on animal charities I naively assumed that everything sent to me in printed form was the truth and that all the money I sent out (even if just $10) went to directly help the animals. They were all non-profits, after all, and doesn't the government have strict guidelines for them? They are charities -- even the name "charity" implies to us that everything is on the "up and up" and they are doing the job they promise to do. How wrong I was!
Some time ago I began to subscribe to a publication called Animal People. The editor is Merritt Clifton who is extremely knowledgeable on any animal issue. Animal People is the watchdog for animal charities as well as reporting on all animal news and issues. Their website is: www.animalpeoplenews.org
It is terribly important that any financial contribution we give to help animals go to organizations that don't pay outrageous salaries or aren't afraid to show their financial documents. Organizations that are truthful. Now, when I give to any charity I cross-check Animal People, the National Charities Information Bureau (merging with another organization at present according to their website), and Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine (to be certain the charity does no animal testing or experiments).
It was through Animal People that I found out that some wildlife organizations support hunting and trapping but don't always tell their supporters this. Some animal charities have taken credit for hard work that others have done. Others have fancy CEO's with even fancier salaries -- money that should be spent on helping animals. Are you okay sending in your contribution to an organization whose top person may make nearly $300,000?? I read that in countries like England animal welfare charities don't get the big bucks for salaries as some animal charities in the U.S. do. Sadly, greed is rampant in our country and the lack of knowledge about this issue causes well-meaning animal lovers to waste precious money that could be better spent elsewhere to really help animals. Before you write that check or grab your credit card, do your own research--we owe it to the animals. I saw a t-shirt I liked once that said "Question Authority." Maybe ours should read: "Question Animal Authorities!"
Return to Animals in Print 7 May 2001 Issue
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