After posting the commentary below, we were contacted by a CTV representative. She explained that Sunday’s story occurred close to deadline and was presented as a “pit bull attack” based on the witness’ description of the dog and no evidence to the contrary at that time. It was acknowledged that the story should have been covered differently and there have since been internal discussions around the matter.
It was also brought to our attention that a follow-up story aired the following day with a very different focus, and the online content was reviewed to remove any references to “pit bull” in the online articles.
This may be the first time we were proactively contacted by a news agency around the topic of biased reporting – so while it still stings to see an unnecessary “pit bull attack” story in the news, we want to look on the bright side. This event spurred some important conversations and CTV does have some people who care about getting this right. Kudos to them for being open to a conversation.
Original post is below.
Sunday’s reporting of a dog attack illustrates one of the big problems with the reporting of “pit bulls” in the media. A serious dog attack story appeared as *BREAKING NEWS* on CTV on Sunday evening. In a piece titled “Pit bull seized after fatal attack”, reporters described a “vicious” attack that left a puppy “nearly disembowelled”. A stunned witness described how the “…unneute
red pit bull, brindled pit bull dog…ripped into my friends puppy.” The inevitable comments ensued about banning breeds.
But then it was quiet, and Monday’s Metro News story gives a strong hint why. In that story, the dog is identified as a lab/mastiff cross.http://goo.gl/6z4OkL
CTV has since changed the online version of the story to “large dog” in the headline, but the video can be seen with the original breed mention.
Our guess is that a large, brindled, boxy-headed dog attacking another dog was assumed to be a pit bull on scene. When animal control apprehended the dog it was determined to be an entirely different breed, and there was some attempt to correct this after the fact. Still, everyone in the vicinity and everyone who watched the news on Sunday came away with the impression that there was yet another one of those “vicious pit bull” attacks.
Why can’t an attacking dog be reported as a “large dog” from the beginning?
Our condolences to Mila’s family during this difficult time.