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The Media Takes Its Lumps Over Reporting About Pit Bulls

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By John Davidson for DenverPost.com

Monika Courtney had something on her mind and she wanted me to know about it.

The Evergreen freelance writer and self-described “animal advocate” was upset about a headline she saw on a Denver television news story: “Pit bull attacks 6-year-old girl.”

Courtney didn’t deny the incident happened. But the outspoken opponent of legislation banning a specific breed of dog didn’t believe the breed would have been mentioned if it were something other than a pit bull — that’s if the story had even been done in the first place.

In short, she believed the media blew it. She’s not the first person I’ve encountered who feels that way. In fact, pit bull supporters in general seem to think the media has helped stereotype the breed as vicious and dangerous while failing to offer other views or context, such as whether or not the pit bull owner’s negligence is to blame for an attack.

So I asked Courtney to explain why she felt that way. Here, in her own words, edited for space, is what she e-mailed me:

“Hasn’t the success of the press been credited to selling stories, when they are decorated with a hyped, sensationalized headline to stir our emotions? Haven’t we all been susceptible in reading these before those that are mainly based on facts and truth? In regards to breed bans, I think yes. America’s once most favorite
dog, the pit bull, has been scapegoated as a Godzilla, suffering greatly due to misconceptions, hyped exaggerations, hand-me-down myths and bloody components …

To read the rest click here.


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