Testimony Surrounding Poultry Pollution Ends: Journalists Report

Potential poultry pollution leads to legal dispute. Testimony ends, journalists report.

This week’s topic, Environmental Litigation: Pursuing the Courts as a Tool For Change, is inherently as broad as the history of environmental issues in the United States. Environmentalists—in looking for both justice and change in environmental disparities—have used the legal system to force companies and individuals to comply with environmental laws. As such, the legal system has served as an invaluable tool for some of the most significant environmental victories. However, with the complexity of legal terminology and practices, journalists play a particularly interesting role in reporting on stories of environmental lawsuits.

This past Wednesday, testimony surrounding a lawsuit against  Hudson Family Farms and Perdue Farms (both chicken grower) ended. This lawsuit, which was brought on by waterkeeper alliance (an environmental protection group), charges Hudson Family Farm with polluting a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, subsequently violating the Clean Water Act.

Three articles, in particular, do a good job reporting on the ending of testimony in this case. However, when comparing these articles there are apparent differences: length, structure, and content. What other differences to you notice? How do these difference account for potential differences in target audience? Do you notice any underlying motives between the pieces? Did the respective journalists do a adequate job in relaying the legal concepts of this issue? Overall, which piece(s) did you think did the best job of reporting on this case?

Here are the articles:

Testimony Concludes In Hudson Farm Case; Judge May Rule In December“– The Dispatch


Testimony ends in Hudson Farm lawsuit“–Delmarvanow.com


Verdict put off in poultry pollution lawsuit“–The Baltimore Sun 


8 Responses to “Testimony Surrounding Poultry Pollution Ends: Journalists Report”

  1. Clancey, I love the photo. Images really add a lot to a story. But let’s be sure that we’re only using photos that we take or that we have permission to use. We do not have permission to re-post photos from news web pages. You can search on photo sites like Flickr for photos that have been posted with one of the creative commons licenses allowing their re-use under specific circumstances. In the caption area under a photo, let’s please always give credit to the photographer and, if we didn’t take the photos ourselves, let’s say where we got them and by what license we have permission to use them. Thanks!

    • Hi Emilia! Thanks for your comment! I inserted a photo that I actually took, so hopefully that clears up all the points you addressed in your comment! I’ll make sure to remember them in future!

  2. Clancey,

    I really like where you took this blog post, and the picture!

    I tried to go into each article as a reader that didn’t have much knowledge in this subject (because I really don’t, and because I could be more objective).

    In the Baltimore Sun’s article, I had no clue what was going on. The author assumes a high level of knowledge about this case, and does not report baseline facts. To me, I think the article would have been much better and open to a broader audience if it would have given at least some background information about this litigation. However, the author could have been writing the piece for an audience that had been closely following the case. Albeit a much smaller audience, this article would have been great for them. It was concise and reported the most recent developments in the story. All in all, to judge this article I think it highly depends on who the author was trying to target.

    The article from Delmarvanow.com was perfect for my level of familiarity of this case. It reported the background, not going into too much detail, and gave the newest developments. I think this article would be right for someone who had just learned about this lawsuit and wanted to learn about it. I’m getting the feeling that these 3 articles are going to be similar to Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Let’s take a look at the last one.

    My previous thoughts have been confirmed! This is an article that I would open up and then instantly close because it is simply too long for what I need. The article gives great detailed information, but for the average (extremely busy) reader, I think it is simply too much. Whereas the Sun’s article gave us quick up to date information and the second gave us a light background with current developments, this article gives the reader everything they could have ever wanted.

    Similar to Goldilocks choosing the porridge, chair, and bed that were “just right”, I would definitely choose Demlarvanow.com’s article, as it is just right for me. Solid background information, current developments, and a light and easy read. This is completely my personal opinion, and other people would probably choose a different article as their favorite.

  3. I thought the Delmarvanow.com article was what I thought was the most helpful to me, in terms of increasing my understand. It wasn’t very long, and it spelled out the important aspects. I think these articles all serve different purposes, though. For example, the Dispatch article was REALLY in depth, and I read it first, and found myself a little overwhelmed by the amount of information. If you’re someone who is really interested in the topic, that is a good article for you.

    I think it’s important that articles vary from each other on topics like this–none seemed overly biased, and that helped me take them seriously. The Sun article was my least favorite, just because I felt it lacked a lot.

  4. Clancey, I really liked your post and the questions you asked us to address. The picture is also a great addition!! I thought that the Sun article was much to short to really explain the elements of the case. Perhaps this is because it is looking to reach a broader audience that is looking for an update on the case or wants a smaller amount of information. That being said, the article doesn’t seem to make an effort to pack a very strong punch in a short piece. I read this article last so I understood what the case was about, but without this previous knowledge, I would have felt left in the dark. The length of the article, coupled with the lack of information and quotes, makes it feel like an after thought and left me feeling almost slighted. Like Adam mentioned, it feels like the author either assumes the reader knows a lot about the topic or doesn’t think it’s important to share the information.

    In contrast, the other articles both capture some of the more important nuances of the case (like who is representing the environmentalists for example). The Dispatch article, although long, included the most information and helped me to best understand all of the moving parts in this case. I felt that this article gave me enough information to understand the different motives and sides of the case. While this article was the most informative, I think that the Delmarva article did the best job balancing information with conciseness. It presented a good amount of information, mixing general information with details to create an article that would appeal to individuals closely watching the case (like those near the issue) and readers further away. It was easy to read and had strong quotes. The journalist paraphrased information that the Dispatch article quoted which helped to make the story a little smoother and easier to read. Both of these articles included an appropriate amount of legal jargon that helped the reader to understand the basics of the case without alienating them with unfamiliar terms.

  5. I have to agree with the majority here. I think the Delmarvanow.com article was by far the most effective article for the average reader. The first article was far too long and hard to understand. I found myself losing interest. The last article was short and to the point. I think I would find value in an article like this if I just needed a quick reference point or background.

    I think that the Delmarvanow.com article did a great job of explaining the issues, the players, and the controversy. I must say I really enjoyed exploring three very different approaches to the same issues and court case. I think it’s something that I will consider when writing articles of my own.

    I also want to compliment you on the use of the photo. Not only to images draw readers in, but I liked the image itself. I automatically thought the articles were going to be about inhumane chicken farms. Chickens crammed into cages vs. free range chickens is an issue that has been a common controversy in our media. I liked that the image conjured up thoughts in my head, but I was still surprised by the content that followed.

  6. I’ll agree with everyone, great job, Clancey. What a great post! Bravo.

    The obvious differences that you have pointed out do affect the reader in many distinct ways and angles. It is especially interesting to note that they are all reporting about the same events and backstory but the relevant information varies. I would be most interested into looking into the psychology behind where it is published and what each avenue of media does to the reader. As in how does a reader find a particular piece more or less appealing, credible, or convincing? While the content is the most valuable and tangible aspect to the reader, there are forces outside of the writer’s control that affect the perception of those connected words and ideas.

    I, too, thought the Baltimore Sun article was not entirely appealing in content but my also due to the formatting and the use of advertisements. It wasn’t easy to read at all. But in comparison, the Delmarvanow.com piece was formatted the most simply and the most visually pleasing. The format reflects the ability of the article to be read and understood by many people without prior knowledge or involvement in the topic. All that being said, The Dispatch’s format, website, and business reflects the tone, content and interest to the reader. Very interesting to look at and maybe I’m just as affected by their contexts to agree so strongly but just when giving a glance and using some educated knowledge it is more easy to see its associations and intentions about their relying of more complex legal material for a specific audience.

  7. Other than the differences you mentioned, I looked through the headlines titles to see what they could tell me about the articles. It’s interesting actually how two of the headlines say that the decision has been delayed, while another doesn’t mention it at all. Two of the articles’ headlines mention how the court ruling has come to some sort of ‘end,’ while another doesn’t specify that. And again, one headline mentions the actual issue of “poultry pollution,” while the other two say “Hudson Farms.”

    I think these differences are interesting to note when taking into account the topic. While many journalists do not write their own headlines, someone does. Essentially, we see the same issue in all three articles, but the persons to decide the headlines saw different things in them that caused different headlines. Headlines are what usually bring a reader into what articles are about. If the headline is catchy or interesting, chances are that I will read it. If not, probably not. This makes you think about the success and popularity of a news company because one aspect that affects it is how much you can pull in your reader.

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