Litigating Genetically Modified Foods

**This is the real blog post for the week, ignore the Prop 3 post. Sorry for the confusion!**

The negative effects of genetically modified foods are pretty well known, and yet they continue to be grown and consumed. Here’s an interesting article from the AP about a recent lawsuit against the Fish and Wildlife Service for violating environmental laws with genetically modified foods, and a press release looking at the same issue. This article from the Clarion Ledger is interesting because it’s also the AP version, but significantly shortened with an emphasis on the visual. Here’s a short article about the judge’s decision to overrule a similar lawsuit. Which of these articles is most effective/engaging? The longer, more standard Washington Post article? Is the press release more entertaining? Or is a shorter article like the Minnesota Public Radio one always better? In terms of litigation, which explained the situation/case and legals ramifications best? Why?

Also, I thought it was interesting to take a closer look at the Washington Post article, which is actually from the AP. This same article was used in many different publications as AP articles are, but what I found most interesting was the difference in headlines:

– Washington Post: “Environmental groups win challenge to gene-altered crops on National Wildlife Refuges in South”

– Miami Herald: “Groups win challenge to gene-altered crops”

– The Huffington Post: “GMO Crop Planting In National Wildlife Refuges Rejected By U.S. Judge”

– Newser: “Environmental groups win challenge to gene-altered crops on National Wildlife Refuges in South”

What are your thoughts on headlines? Which grabbed your attention? 




10 Responses to “Litigating Genetically Modified Foods”

  1. I liked reading the Washington Post article and the Minnesota Public Radio article, the latter mainly because it was short. But I am a huge fan of Washington Post articles because they tend to take be the supplementary material for the smaller articles that are found locally. I think it’s important to have both kinds of things because the style of writing is sometimes different. The press release isn’t as exciting because it gives straight facts, therefore I believe that it is important journalists take advantage of being able to make press releases more appealing pieces of news.

    In terms of headlines, anything with group names and capitalized letters catches my attention. Even if it isn’t something that I have heard of before I will take the time to read it because it seems important.

  2. I think the Washington Post article is the most engaging. I liked the fact that it offered opposing views and was in depth enough to give the reader a feel for the issue, without being dry and strictly factual like the press release. However, a press release by nature is not meant to be engaging, it’s meant to give the press the facts for them to use and relate back to the readers and viewers. And while the public radio article was the shortest and thus the easiest to read and pay attention to, that doesn’t necessarily mean it was the most engaging. Yes, it was easier to get through and take everything in because of its length, but it was not detailed or in depth enough to make me feel like I really understood the issue and could form my own opinion. I guess because the short one was so brief and to the point, it did an ok job in explaining the legal aspect in a convenient and easy to read way.

    As for the headlines, honestly none of them really grabbed my attention. Though I can’t say which one I liked best, I can say that the Miami Herald one was the most vague and left me wanting to read the article much less than the others, though they are wordy and vague. Headline writing is difficult; the balance between introducing the article and staying concise and interesting is always hard to achieve.

  3. In my opinion, the Washington Post article does a good job explaining the situation surrounding the lawsuit. I think it gives just enough background information to put the news in context for readers. I think the author does a decent job of avoiding “he said, she said” journalism. It wasn’t particularly interesting though because it didn’t have any visuals and the quotes weren’t anything special. I also liked the MPR article because it is concise and to the point. It’s a good read for busy people to get just the facts.

    The Clarion Leger article was too short and didn’t provide enough information. It doesn’t give the reader any reason to care about the issue. The article states the practice caused “harmful environmental impacts,” which is too vague to have any meaning unless you are already know what those impacts are.

    In terms of the most engaging, I’d say the MPR article was the best because it tells readers everything they need to know quickly and efficiently. As someone who has done a lot of research about GMOs and their ramifications, this article appealed to me most because I didn’t have to sift through a lot of information that I already knew. However, for people with little knowledge on the topic, the Washington Post article might be better. The best at explaining the litigation was the press release but that is obviously what a press release is supposed to do.

    I agree with Phoebe that none of the headlines really grabbed my attention. If I had to choose, the Washington Post title would the best because it gives more information. For me, more transparent headlines are better attention grabbers.

  4. In a fast paced world sometimes the shorter article is the better way to engage readers. However, when it comes to court litigation I believe that a shorter article loses readers who lack knowledge of the case. The court system takes a long period of time to make decisions and by the time a hot topic finally sees a ruling or a courtroom a lot of the initial buzz on the topic is long forgotten. The Washington Post via the AP article was successful in allowing readers to revisit what was going on and how the ruling came to be decided, all while staying a moderate length. Important details like the quote from President Obama’s appointee and the future processes to mitigate effects of genetically engineered foods were left out of the Clarion Ledger. We’ve learned in this class that quotes are the key to making your article reputable as well as connecting the reader’s life to the story through discussion of how the story could or is affecting their lives.

    In regards to the headlines, Stephanie makes a good point that more informative headlines can be the most attention grabbing. I agree, especially with stories that are not common knowledge among the public. I have a problem with the Huffington Post headline because many people do not know GMO means genetically modified organism and could be skipped over by a reader because of the abbreviation. While the Washington Post headline does not have sparkle and shine, it is the most concise and well explained of all the examples. The comparison of the headlines was a great thought Alicia, and I enjoyed reading about this topic!

  5. As an unashamed health food addict, I am always trying to learn more about what is and what isn’t good for me to eat so I’m always interested to read any new updates on health and food issues in the country.

    The Washington Post, Clarion Leger, and the MPR articles all attempt to explain the situation surrounding the lawsuit against the Fish and Wildlife Services for their violation of environmental laws but do so using drastically different approaches. The Washington Post is by far the most all-encompassing as it gives enough background information for readers to put the lawsuit into context. However, the success of this article is only reflective of how poor a job, I felt, that the Clarion did covering this issue. The Clarion article was too short and phrased their story way too vaguely (“harmful environmental impacts”, “mostly corn and soybean”). When it comes to getting news across to people that may have never heard of this issue or any issue for that matter, the shorter an article is, the better! But what journalists have to compensate for their lack in length, they have to make up for in detail and incisive language. The Clarion article greatly fails in these departments.

    The MPR article is actually a great example of how length is arbitrary to an article’s ability to tell a compelling story. The MPR story is very short but what it lacks in word count, it makes up for in comprehensiveness. I think that the quotes the author has chosen to use in the MPR article are more engaging than the quotes in the Washington Post but I do feel that in order to get a handle on the whole issue, reading the Washington Post article may be most beneficial.

  6. I find it interesting (and scary) to learn about all the negative effects of GMOs. I think it’s an important issue to consider, especially when many genetically modified crops are being sold throughout the US and consumed by people on a daily basis. It’s often hard to avoid products containing these crops, especially when companies like Monsanto have huge control over the agriculture industry.

    When trying to stay informed on these types of issues, the Huffington Post article headline grabbed my attention the most. I found all the other to be somewhat similar to each other, describing a “win” for environmental groups. However, the Huffington Post headline indicates that GMO planting is “rejected,” which I think sounds more dramatic and stirred my interest.

    I liked the article from the Clarion Ledger because I thought it got straight to the point. The headline indicated exactly what the story was about, and the text provided enough information even though it was rather short. I also really liked the visual. I find myself drawn to stories containing images. Maybe it’s just because I’m more of a visual learner, but I think that adding some sort of photograph to an article can really help enhance the story and pull the reader in to wanting to learn more about the issue.

  7. The Washington Post article was the most informative, which is what I appreciated about it. Like Neil said, when you are addressing an issue that many people do not know about, it is important to clarify details. This article achieved that.

    I also appreciated the Associated Press article. Although it does not elucidate the harmful impacts of GMO’s on food production and distribution, it does a succinct job of telling the key facts about the GMO issue, and gave me a clear update on how our country is addressing it now. I don’t think AP articles are enough for covering topics like this, but they are definitely helpful when one only has time to read a short blurb. We can surely get more informed, however, if we read many sources of news on a topic.

  8. I also agree that the Washington Post article is the most compelling. It shows the opposing thoughts on the subject while also providing information on why we should care about the subject – making it relevant to us. However, the shorter MPR news article also gives a quick insight into the subject and provides information as to why GMOs would be preferred or abhorred.

    In regards to the headlines, I think that it is interesting that the Huffington Post is the only source that used negative language. While all the other articles used the word “win” the Huffington Post used the word “rejected”, referring to the other party involved. I think that based on the use of positive or negative language, one might make assumptions about the stance of the source – whether they were for the affirmed decision or against it. While positive language shows optimism and enthusiasm, negative language shows disappointment and disagreement.

  9. Call me crazy, but I actually didn’t like the short Minnesota Public Radio article, even though it was the shortest! This is very out of character for me, but I didn’t feel that the article gave me any information. I barely knew what was going on and was given insufficient background information to read what they had to say and to then form an opinion. The Washington Post article was definitely preferred because it included all the information I needed to fully understand what was going on.

  10. I agree, I thought both the Minnesota Public article was extremely short – along with the Charion Ledger article. For such a major impact topic I felt like neither article did it any justice. Even through all the technical jargon I actually found the official press release the most interesting simply because it was had the most information regarding the subject. Reading this article actually made other articles easier to read and interpret.

    Ultimately, I think this needs to be bought further to the attention of the public by journalists because there is no reason it could not happen in other areas of food.

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