In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses the polarized messages presented about animal activism in the mainstream media.
As many of you may know, I am a huge supporter of animal rights activism. I co-founded http://www.animalsupport.org/ with my brother Michael Omidi. Today, I would like to discuss the extreme ways the mainstream media portrays animal advocates.
There are two commonly held distinctions of supporters on animals in the media. On the conservative side, they are seen as liberal vigilantes. On the more moderate to liberal side, they are seen as compassionate animal allies. What differentiates the two? Is it the scope of bias from a media conglomerates political affiliation? Or, is it the influence of extremist animal rights organizations tainting the progress of more moderate animal support groups?
One major case that has brought the animal rights debate to the forefront of media is the recent news of Ringling Bros. decision to ban the use of elephants in their circus shows. It is clear to see a political bias simply by the headlines used to discuss such an occasion. For instance, MSNBC, which typically takes a more left of moderate point of view, reported this as “Progress for Elephants and the Animal Rights Movement.” Whereas an opinion piece from the Stateman’s Journal, a subsidiary of USA Today, critiqued the decision as “Radical animal-rights activists behind loss of circus elephants.”
If we analyze the syntax of the two headlines, it’s clear to see the bias. The MSNBC piece talks about how the decision is “progress for Elephants” whereas the Statesman article emphasizes “loss of circus elephants.” If we further analyze the second headline they deem the loss as being caused by “radical animal-rights activists” whereas the MSNBC piece chooses to highlight the progress for “the Animal Rights Movement.” Simply dissecting the way in which we title the news can clearly show the opinion of the media outlet.
It is unclear why someone would be opposed to such a decision. Cruelty to animals is an archaic practice that is no longer fit for today’s culture, especially in America. Will the Ringling Bros. decision change the ‘past time’ of going to the circus? Surely, but it will also spark innovation. Any business that is forced to change its practices will be forced to further evolve their brand. They will no longer be able to use nostalgia, but will have to stay relevant through adaptations.
The next time you read an article on animal rights, pick apart the headline. See the author’s point of view, that way you can clearly determine if it is pointing out the right elements of a discussion.
Be good to each other,
Julian Omidi is the co-founder of Animal Support, which advocates for animals throughout the world