Just happened to pick up a Daily Campus when I stopped at my local salad emporium tonight. There on the front page, a piece of reportage about changes in cafeteria food.
Now there's an original story idea for a college paper.
I can always tell when a reporter doesn't know what she is doing when I read a quote from a source that clearly screams chicken**** and isn't challenged.
The reporter in this case included several statements from the campus' new food services chief, Tim Schaub, who was touting the "spa cuisine" in his dining hall.
Think about that for a sec. Spa cuisine in a college refectory. Egad.
In the story the reporter wrote that Schaub switched to serving Tyson-brand chicken because Tyson "treats animals humanely." (Those are my quotes around three words from the story. The reporter did not put those words in quotes to indicate Schaub saying them.)
Using Tyson chicken is, typed this reporter, part of Schaub's effort to be "as eco-friendly as possible."
Look, I'm no animal rights freak. I'll eat a Whatachicken sandwich whenever I can get my mitts on one. But how dumb do you have to be not to know that Tyson, a company that's lower than whale shit on the scale of eco-friendly food suppliers, has been a PETA target for years? It is, after all, the supplier of all the chicken for KFC. They're about as friendly to their birds as the Manson Family was to the houseguests on Cielo Drive.
A PETA investigation of two Tyson Foods slaughterhouses last year exposed disgusting conditions including abuse, mutilation, decapitation and urination. (Check out http://www.torturedbytyson.com/ for all the inspiration you need to become a vegan for life.)
In another PETA initiative, an undercover investigator got a job on the slaughter line of a Tyson Foods chicken processing plant in Heflin, Alabama. Using a hidden camera, he got footage of horrific treatment of the more than 100,000 chickens killed daily in the plant. Birds were mutilated by throat-cutting machines that malfunctioned. One hen had skin torn entirely off her chest before she was killed.
Workers were told to rip the heads off chickens that had missed the throat-cutting machines, and the PETA investigator was told not to stop the line for missed birds. Plant employees threw dead and dying birds around just for fun.
PETA's investigator also saw birds scalded alive in the feather-removal tank. Plant managers told him that it was acceptable for 40 animals per shift to be scalded alive.
Chowing on a Tyson drumstick is about as eco- and animal-friendly as eating a Big Mac.
As a journalist, remember this: Don't take what anyone says as fact. Check everything for yourself to find out what is true and correct. Accept nothing in an interview at face value. That includes an interview with your mother.
I know this was a dumb story in a student paper--one that has columns for fashion, food and decorating, mind you--but even young journos should know the rules.
Never assume. Don't be lazy. Listen, question, challenge. Get the truth. That's what readers should expect and deserve.
If you don't, you're just chickening out.