Sunday, September 16, 2012

Can You Call It "Pink Slime" If Everyone Else Does?

Last week, a defamation lawsuit was filed against ABC News, anchor Diane Sawyer and ABC correspondents Jim Avila and David Kerley because they did a series of stories about a meat process that develops what, apparently, someone has dubbed "pink slime."

The company that filed the lawsuit, Beef Products Inc, also sued the microbiologist who coined the term, and several other people. Beef Products says that the the end result is not "pink slime," but lean, finely textured beef.

Many other organizations did stories about the meat and the process, also using the term "pink slime." The term and idea instantly became Internet fodder.

Watch the package above. Did ABC News do anything wrong? Were they fair in their reporting, or does this story exploit what is sure to be a story that will draw an immediate and powerful reaction?

One critic of ABC News wrote, "Some journalists aren’t content with covering the news; they have to make it, too. That’s been ABC’s strategy as the network has led the charge against USDA-approved beef. That agenda has put at least 600 jobs in jeopardy as the targeted company suspended operations in three separate plants."

Would you feel comfortable doing this story the way ABC News did?

Are there any grounds to the lawsuit?

14 comments:

Baloo said...

Our society is becoming way too litigious. This is ridiculous. What grounds are the basis for this lawsuit in all honesty? It's not like the microbiologist is really trying to just defame their highly unhealthy processed garbage in the first place. The name describes what it pretty much is already!

Corporations are throwing their money around way too much to try and cut a quick profit for nothing. And corporations should learn, if you don't want bad publicity and negative public outlook, don't cut costs and corners and put out such a shitty product.

svennewby said...

Agreeing with the above comment, I find the lawsuit ridiculous. I see no faults on ABC's part, but rather in the industry and scientists supporting the "pink slime" to make a quick buck. Journalists are supposed to uncover these dark secrets that normal people never find out about on their own. And that's exactly what they're doing here.

Robert Dieckmann said...

I don't feel that ABC is in the wrong here. They didn't coin the term "pink slime" and, furthermore, they did an interview with the scientist who did. It's relevant to the story. There's always backlash against whistle blowers and as good journalists, it's our responsibility to stand with those who are brave enough to tell the truth in the face of legal action or any other consequence.

Helen said...

I read the article by the critic of ABC News. I found the author accused ABC of making the news, but throughout his article he only said the beef is USDA-approved, and the rest of the article is made of how many times ABC mentioned "pink slime", the possible job loss this exposure could cause and a lot of unfriendly comments. The critic read more like attacking instead of informing. Thus, I agree the comment above that "there's always backlash against whistle blowers".

Khaliha H. said...

I don't think that ABC was wrong in this through most of their package, however, I do think that ending part about Joanne Smith was unnecessary. The package was about the "pink slime" that people are eating, not the person that ok'd it and how much she now makes .

Bryana Natale said...

I agree with all of the above. I do not see how ABC was at fault. It is a journalist's job to seek the truth and their loyalty is to the citizens. We, the consumers, have a right to know about this. In addition, as already stated, ABC was not the one to call the msterious meat "pink slime." Therefore, I do not see what the problem is.

Lindsey Murray said...

I agree with the above topics that ABC was at not fault whatsoever. They were not the ones who coined the term but simply reported on a relevant and newsworthy story. It's obvious that this company is just seeking money from this lawsuit due to the fact that they chose a major new corporation to sue rather than the many other organizations that also used this term.

Bob Stewart said...

The only way ABC would be liable is if they incorrectly reported the facts. For example, ammonia is used to disinfect the product. If they said it was bleach they were wrong. As far as the term "pink slime" goes, if you want to control the name pick something that sounds normal yourself. Lean finely textured beef won't cut it for TV broadcasts any more than it will for the human diet. Would I have covered this like ABC? No, I probably would have called it disinfected dog food, since that it what it was used for originally (actually I probably would not have called it that - but I would want too - I'm just fired up today for some reason).

JustinWagner said...

It's pink therefore it's meat, WTF!

Like seriously, what? How many viewers watched that program and are continuing to buy this fake bullshit at their grocery stores.

But this isn't new of course!
I just finished the Jungle, a book about the Chicago meat packing industry, and the gruesome tales of what "accidentally" went into the meat, is honestly too much to fathom.

I honestly question this industry every day of my life, whether it's because I have three years of burger flipping under my belt... I don't know. Much love to Five Guys though<3

But I know for a fact something sketchy has been going on with what American's eat for quite some time.

Has anyone in here ever watched "Food, Inc."?
Watch that documentary and think about this story ABC covered.

If a huge news station like ABC attempts to investigate what the hell is really going on with what we eat just goes to show you there are secrets to be discovered.

The fact that the secretary said that bullshit is evidence enough that he doesn't care about our health, he knows the system is corrupt and obviously it doesn't effect him. It effects his wallet in a positive light though, greedy bastards.

Does any journalism student reading this know any good healthy food sites, or magazines, or places to eat in Philly...

I'm tired of being fed from the 1%, someone teach me the art of gardening so I can feed my own damn self!

Okay, I need to stop rambling... I'm getting worked up over these negative vibes.
Time to grub

Joaquin Jones said...

I think that ABC did a very good thing by bringing this story to the forefront. Of course it is not fair to Beef Products Inc. but hey, life is not fair! People should be thankful that they were informed on the distribution of chemically-altered meat. It is sad to know that when I go to the grocery store, I could be purchasing beef trimmings that come from dog food or cooking oil and then is sprayed with ammonia. If I was the journalist who uncovered this story, then I would not care about getting sued because I need to tell the public the truth!
p.s. I would care about getting sued. I got a little carried away!

Brielle Colina said...

ABC did no wrong. Reporters report the facts and educate the poeple.

Beef Products Inc should not be selling an unsafe cheap product to their customers. They should be looking out for their customers best interests and selling high quality products.

Corynn Johnson said...

I believe that ABC did nothing more then report the truth and reveal the truth about Beef Products. However, I can see why Beef Products is upset because the bad publicity is definitely bad for business. Maybe now they will be more upfront with what they sell and consumers will do more research into what they buy.

Janki said...

I agree with Justin up there.

There are so many chemicals and preservatives that we don't even know exist in our food. Also, at the end of the report, Diane did say that this is an ongoing case that they will be following up on. She would have been wrong to say that what this guy is saying is true and that's it, don't buy the meat. But the report was simply a man coming forward with information that he believes to be reliable. I don't think ABC News did anything wrong in reporting this story. They did what they had to... they had a story that was interesting and one that they felt the audience should be aware about and they reported it without any opinions added. They left the report as an ongoing investigation and left the public to decide whether they want to continue consuming the beef or not during the process of the investigation.

Moumita Ghosh said...

I do not agree with this lawsuit because I do find ABC news at fault. They were just trying to report a story about what was really going on using the term 'pink slime' that was coined by the microbiologist and not even by ABC. I do not think that Beef Products Inc. should have filed a lawsuit against ABC news and also against the microbiologist, I mean that is just ridiculous! Corporations shouldn't be cutting the costs and putting shitty food products like that out there in the first place! People do not wanna buy and eat that.