Accuracy in Media

Over the weekend, climate change activists interrupted the annual Harvard-Yale football game, which was held at Yale University this year. The activists, at halftime, descended from the spectator stands to the field and protested both universities on the subject of climate change. The protesters demanded that the universities divest their investments and endowment funds from fossil fuel companies and similar business ventures and some chanted, “Disclose, divest, or this will be our end.”

BuzzFeed covered the protest and incorrectly noted that the protest took “more than 30 minutes,” when multiple other sources said it was close to an hour of protesting. National Public Radio (NPR) said it was closer to an hour than a half-hour while NBC News said that its Connecticut affiliate said the delay was about 45 minutes.

The time of the protest was important because the Yale Bowl, where the game was being held, did not have permanent lights installed, and if the game was delayed further, it could be canceled due to darkness. It is also not difficult to say that a protest took about forty-five minutes and not be as vague as BuzzFeed was, which is ultimately a sourcing and reporting issue for BuzzFeed.

Also, BuzzFeed quoted a single source, who spoke to the website while the protest was going on, and who erroneously claimed that |[t]he entire field was flooded by people demanding that the university stand up for our future.” Their source was Yale University junior Nora Heaphy, one of the protest organizers who had to end her conversation with BuzzFeed due to being processed by a police officer.

However, a glance at the photographs from the protest demonstrate that the field was not flooded by protesters when it was compared to the Yale Bowl’s capacity of under 65,000 spectators. BuzzFeed also said that about 150 protesters participated, which number could not flood the field since the typical football field’s size is 120 yards long and about 53 yards wide.

Although the protest made headlines for BuzzFeed and other outlets and news sites, it was not as large as the media portrayed it to be. Also, BuzzFeed should have sought out more sources to provide context for the protests, as well as the official response by Yale University and the police officers who responded to the protest, instead of solely quoting a protest organizer.

 

Photo by NKCPhoto




Ready to fight back against media bias?
Join us by donating to AIM today.

Comments

Comments are turned off for this article.