I’m a huge fan of NPR’s “On the Media.” It’s hands-down some of the sharpest, most comprehensive coverage of free speech, privacy, and media issues. So I was thrilled to be back on the program recently talking about “ag gag” bills that threaten undercover investigators, whistleblowers, and even journalists.
As NPR’s Brooke Gladstone notes, undercover investigations are often used today by animal protection groups, but the tactic has roots in investigative journalism like Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. “Since then,” Gladstone says, “many journalists have used the same tactic to expose the hidden corners of our food supply.”
I really hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to this full interview. Gladstone and producer Jamie York were able to weave together the full scope of this issue, including the FBI’s classification of undercover investigators as terrorists, and how new laws like the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act conflate the “loss of profits” with criminal activity. We also talk about the types of animal abuse that the industry is trying to hide.
Here’s one of my comments:
“[The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act] and other bills focus on economic loss. And when we start talking about the loss of profits, the most signficant threat to those profits in recent years has not been broken windows, it has been activists who have actually been opening windows into how these operations work by creating video footage.”
As Gladstone noted, most of the outrage against these bills has come from consumer advocates and animal protection groups. But journalists need to step forward in opposition as well.
[PS: If you don't mind, please "like" the story on NPR as well to thank them for covering this issue!]