Pipeline Coverage in the Media

Watch the video about the Enbridge oil company they display on their website: http://www.enbridge.com/MediaCentre/VideoLibrary.aspx#page:2

What do you think about the way Enbridge represents themselves? Is it truthful? What kind of message do you think the company is trying to send, given the statement they make at the beginning of the video?

Oil companies are not given favorable treatment in the environmental media, often because they are seen as profit-seeking companies that exploit government legislators in order to drill in fragile areas like wildlife refuges and national parks. Consider the NPR article on the Kalamazoo oil spill, is this representation fair to the Enbridge? What do you think the short article is missing to obtain a balanced perspective on the issue?

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About karelynm

23 Ann Arbor University of Michigan '14

5 Responses to “Pipeline Coverage in the Media”

  1. FYI
    The link in the post didn’t work for me but try using this address: http://www.enbridge.com/MediaCentre/VideoLibrary.aspx#page:2

    Very good questions this week, Karelyn!! Enbridge certainly wants to represent the company as “safe” and preventative of future safety concerns for families, communities, and the environment. If you’re referring to “Our integrity runs deep” as the message at the beginning of the video (make a follow-up comment if it’s another message, and I’ll respond to that), I like the play on words here, but I’m not convinced of the sincerity of the sentiment. The company is trying to promote a “Prevention and Integrity” campaign, most likely to make up for past mishaps, i.e. the Kalamazoo River spill. Perhaps the oil spill inspired the company to strive for higher sustainability and environment goals, or perhaps the company is attempting to respond to the post-spill critiques to reestablish the public’s trust. It would take more investigative reporting to find the current truth in Enbridge’s new ad campaign. I thought it was interesting that the video throws in at the end that Enbridge is one of Canada’s greenest employers and one of the Global 100 most sustainable corporations in the world. I’m wondering if this has always been the case, or if it was this way only after the spill?

    The fairness of the NPR article is questionable. Whenever a story states that someone “blames” someone/something else, without quotes that reinforce that claim, I tend to take a second look. I think the article is missing more quotes from Manshum and also the EPA’s voice. It needs an expert on the typical timeline of oil spill cleanup. The article left me wondering–how fast are oil spills normally cleaned up?

  2. I think Enbridge represents themselves as proactive and precautionary, but my initial thought was that this video was a reaction to an avalanche of bad press following the Kalamazoo River spill. It struck me as more of a publicity stunt than something honest and forward-thinking. I think they are trying to take back their reputation and claim a place of respect and trust in the public’s opinion. They use a soft-spoken, kind, and trustworthy sounding woman to narrate a vastly simplified animated infographic.

    The Michigan Radio article on their failure to meet the cleanup deadline was certainly critical, but I don’t think it was unfair to Enbridge, but maybe to the community. Quotes of Enbridge’s spokesperson himself were used, in enough to context to be quite sure what he meant and him letting the company take at least partial responsibility for the failure to meet the deadline. The article may not have been written all that well, but it gave important figures and dates, and hinted at both sides of the story. River cleanup was obviously everyone’s priority, and the company had faced difficulties in interacting with the community, who was likely still smarting from the spill. I think the facts were presented in a fair way, with a few slip-ups in editorial language such as “fouled”. I think what the article misses is the voice of a community member, environmental activist, outdoor recreation enthusiast, or Kalamazoo business-owner. Although there are hints that the community was not happy about the sludge pad, there is no direct quote regarding the communities opinion on Enbridge’s efforts.

    This article seems like a follow-up piece of someone who has been covering the story since the spill, perhaps more information could be found in a preceding or following the article?

  3. I agree with Ericca–the Michigan Radio article was definitely fair. The focus of the article is the fact that Enbridge won’t clean up its spill in the Kalamazoo river by the deadline. And that’s what the article talks about. I think that if a reporter tried make this article more “balanced” and allow Enbrige a more positive image as I think your question is implying, the article would become one of those articles that in trying to “balance” the story gives the reader a false understanding. As Ericca said, the Enbridge spokesperson was allowed a voice already. Representing Enbridge in any other way than as the facts in the article already do would be misleading and off topic from the focus of the article.

    Furthermore, giving Enbridge a more positive representation in the article would make the article an article like the ones “Climate Change: Get Over Objectivity, Newspapers” (which we read for the Climate Change class) tries to combat. As we’ve talked about, journalists have to define “balanced” in a much less simplified way. Balance does not mean presenting both sides positively, it means presenting both sides truthfully and in a way the reader can understand. And the arguable reality is that Enbridge is not one of Canada’s “greenest companies” nor do they have a “99.999% safe delivery record” as the spill in Kalamazoo proves and as the Enbridge video would have us believe. Enbridge’s video shows the Enbridge is out to convince, persuade, and, I’d argue, mislead the common people. They want a “green” image, but that’s frankly an image the FACTS do not support. Journalists have to follow the facts, not the animated, manipulative publicity scam by this pipeline company.

  4. As previously said by many, the Michigan radio article was fair in its coverage of the Kalamazoo River oil spill, because it is a third party organization which is meant to cover the news, based on facts and evidence. True, as mentioned in class, an article can have a point of view by the use of tone, facts and quotes chosen, and word choice. However, the Michigan radio article does not have anything that I can see that shows glaring biases against Embridge. It is stating the facts–and unfortunately Embridge is the one who has dug themselves into this hole. In contrast to their video, this video could be compared with the one we watched on hydraulic fracturing, because it is similar in style, message, and purpose. i do not know where the 99.999% came from, but if they had shown any sort of citation of data as to where that figure is truthful, it would have given the video more credibility. Embridge’s word choices of integrity and prevention, and their little quotes about how much they care about safety, the environment, and the customers seemed to be too over the top–I could see how people like Colbert, Jon Stewart, and other could have their fun with this video. Did anyone else think the video was actually not the best move for Embridge? That they way the decided to frame the video actually made it look like they were hiding something, or overcompensating?

  5. I do get the sense that I am being misled with the Embridge video, Katie. The peaceful music, the soothing woman’s voice, the bright green land, and the cartoon people and pipes add up to be a bit too much. Taking away a bit of this fluff might actually increase their credibility. At the same time, I may be slightly biased. Many environmental organizations take on similar tactics, making their layouts bright green and pure looking. I think it’s easy for readers to take this as a truthful portrayal, but when industry uses the same technique, they look suspicious. As we saw with the recycling facility, “green” activities can be pretty dirty too. We’re just not used to thinking about them as such. Even still, Embridge could benefit from toning it down a bit.

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