A Gallup poll in 2022 revealed that only 7% of Americans have “a great deal” of trust in newspaper, television or other media outlets. According to the Edelman Annual Trust Barometer in 2022, 67% of people globally believe that journalists and reporters are trying to mislead them (Trust in media declines – PressGazette). I used to be among those 7%, but now find myself increasingly among the 67%.
Why? Because I witness first-hand how journalists can take information and make it fit their narrative, or worse, the narrative of people and groups with an agenda to end all biomedical and behavioral research involving animals. Journalism should be about truth and balance, not propaganda and misinformation. Propaganda and misinformation threaten the future of scientific discovery and medical advances.
Since I became the director of the Washington National Primate Research Center (WaNPRC) in October 2021, I witnessed the systematic ‘gathering’ of information related to WaNPRC through the public records process. These records, that run into the hundreds of thousands, take time and taxpayer dollars to gather, redact and make available to the requester. The information in the documents is taken out of context and repackaged in inflammatory and damaging ways and then sent to journalists with the intent to entice a reporter to take up the mantle of the activist community. Most journalists ignore the bait as they can see through the thinly veiled attempt to discredit our work or our employees. A few erroneously see Pulitzer potential, and an even smaller number take the time to look at both sides of the primate research coin—because there is more than one side. To me, the latter is journalism – objectivity, truth and balance.
I encourage journalists to take the approach of looking at all sides of the animal research debate, objectively and using the facts, not misinformation. Follow the lead of the journalist from Mother Jones, Ms. Jackie Flynn Mogensen who wrote perhaps the most balanced piece of journalism on the topic of animal research I have seen in a very long time. I encourage everyone to read it. (https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2022/06/animals-testing-monkey-primate-shortage-covid-monkeypox-future-pandemic-vaccines/)