Accuracy in Media

According to Vice, propaganda in favor of fertilizers and pesticides is “obviously nefarious” while that in favor of more environmental topics is not. Or at least that’s a reasonable conclusion to draw from this piece.

The American Farm Bureau publishes books aimed at childish reading ages which explain how and why fertilizers and pesticides are used in farming. According to one of Vice’s sources, this is nefarious:

“If you want to spread propaganda, starting with what we tell our children is a very good place to begin.”

Well, yes, but that line between propaganda and education is somewhat thin perhaps. Both are telling things to people.

“Yet A Berry Good Project doesn’t once mention the vast environmental impacts of industrial pesticides.”

That’s not a quote from a source, that’s editorializing from Vice itself.

“But those profits come with a huge environmental impact.”

Yes, we can see which side they are on. Rather a pity that Vice doesn’t take the same view of these children’s books all recommended by Greenpeace. Which are, obviously, enough, taking entirely the opposite view.

Vice is a major media presence these days, the cable TV channel reaches 60 million American homes, the website gains 25 million visits a month and the magazine has a 900,000 distribution. This is where many people are getting their information from.

This is why Vice has a responsibility here. There’s nothing wrong with either education or propaganda in their time and place. But one of the cardinal duties of journalism is to distinguish between them. Also, to be impartial, that is not to label something you agree with one and something you don’t with the other. Writing books for children on either side of any question could indeed be either education or that propaganda. But it will be one or the other on each side of that question.

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