I was disappointed to see this King 5 News segment on the proposed coal export terminal near Bellingham. In the segment, which aired on Wednesday, anchor Lori Matsukawa frames up the piece with the tired old trope of “a clash between economics and the environment.”
Then the news report gets demonstrably lopsided. After reporter Jake Whittenberg frames up the issue, here’s how the roughly two-and-a-half-minute segment goes:
- Pro-coal person gets 20 seconds of air time (1:37 to 1:17).
- Anti-coal person gets 27 seconds of air time (1:16 to 0:49).
- Pro-coal person gets a 17 second rebuttal (0:48 to 0:31).
- Pro-coal person number two gets an additional 7 seconds of air time (0:30 to 0:23).
Let’s add it up. In total, the anti-coal perspective is given 27 seconds in one lump. By contrast, the pro-coal perspective is given 43 seconds, including two different spokespeople and a rebuttal. You don’t need a degree in journalism to see that this amounts to slanted coverage. It’s unfair, and it’s a disservice to both the community and to King 5 News’ viewers.
What’s worse, this marks at least the second time that King 5 has aired a slanted news report on coal.