February 25 2013
If you’re a parent, beware. Tonight, Nickelodeon’s news program for children, Nick News, will cover the pros and cons of fracking. Unfortunately, the show’s host, Linda Ellerbee, violates basic rules of journalism and uses misinformation that will persuade children against safe fracking.
Ok, it's a show during which teens are providing the content and analysis so it's a mistake to expect too much. Yet even in this format, there's a lack of balance that's troubling, since it's leading young viewers to misinformed conclusions about this important issue.
The teen laying out the "pros" focuses on how fracking leads to energy independence and economic growth: “I think it’s good for the country,” 13-year-old Paiton says. “Instead of having to import oil from countries like Iraq, we have it here in America.”
Yet the cons of fracking are both scientifically inaccurate and unfairly represent fracking’s dangers:
“It’s just angering to see how we’re destroying the land,” 13-year-old Kelsey says.
“What good is the money,” Grant says, “if you can’t breathe your air or drink your water?”
“It seems like all the animals are just leaving because (of) all the people, all the traffic, all the noise,” a boy named Colton says.
The show calls on kids to listen to both sides and decide who is right. But what child is going to champion economic growth, if she mistakenly believes fracking destroys water, air, and wildlife? Ellerbee should be wary of using misinformation and fear tactics on our children as a way to explain “facts” surrounding an argument.
It is commendable that Nickelodeon seeks to educate kids on issues surrounding energy, if that is indeed their purpose. But brainwashing and deceiving children through fear tactics and alarmism is dirtier than any supposed side effects of energy production.