Saturday, June 10, 2017

Shark Attack Saturday: Ever Wonder about the Experts Behind Shark Attack Stories? [A re-post from last summer]

Meet George Burgess, the source behind all of these stories in the media and the fellow who is sometimes referred to by the plural "experts" whenever a lazy story is published.  While he may be of generous physical proportions, it's unfair to refer to him as anything but singular.

Here's a small portion of what George has wrought this past week:

Expert warns 2016 could see a record number of shark attacks
Shark attacks in Florida and California as experts warn shark attacks on rise
Shark Attacks Seem To Be On The Rise According To Experts
Shark attacks on the rise, say leading scientists
Summer is here and the number of shark attacks could rise
Swimmers beware: shark attacks set to rise to record highs around the world

Etc., etc., etc....

These stories tend to be written earlier in the year and printed when media staffing is lighter as a third of the newsroom is on summer vacation, then released at the beginning of beach season.  As one may see, they all seem to be slight variations of one another, indicating that they are adaptations from a single wire service story.

There is one fact that seems to escape their notice, however, that would have been worth remarking upon in my day as a reporter.

Mainly, George Burgess is also an advisor to the Discovery Channel's Shark Week, which begins in a couple of weeks.

Hmm, could one thing have to do with the other?  No, that's impossible and I shouldn't have even suggested it.  Forget I said anything.

Here's an alternative view:
Shark Week's biggest critic sharpening his Twitter harpoon 

Also, if you wish, please read of Eugenie Clark, the scientist who began the first serious studies of sharks.