Article: How to cover animal rights issues


Mar 11, 2001
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How To Cover Animal Rights Issues.
Animal News Center Offers Resources.

By Charles Bowen  

SEPTEMBER 25, 2001 -- Increasingly, we are seeing animal rights protestors, not only on national and international news broadcasts, but right in our own towns. Rodeos, circuses, fairs, and similar exhibitions often are followed by bands of animal activists prepared to publicize their complaints. Outside venues, they set up picket lines and talk to passersby to make their case against specific treatment of the animals and the general practice of displaying animals for entertainment and amusement.

Many journalists who see such a demonstration are reminded of how little they know about the politics of animal rights. Reporters assigned to witness such protests too often find themselves having to be educated on the basics of the argument by the very people they have been sent to cover.

Fortunately, a Web site stands ready to supply background that your staff could need in all manner of animal issues, including wildlife news and reports on the treatment of lab animals. The Animal News Center is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to promoting animal welfare. Working through this new Web site, the center coordinates with other news and animal-related organizations to gather information, making the best of its data available online.

To use the resource, visit the site at, where the introductory page features a summary of top stories of the moment, each with a hyperlinked headline that connects you to the full report. On any given day, you will find stories on topics such as state, federal, and international action regarding animal treatment; news from the medical community, like concerns over the widespread use of antibiotics on farm animals; and reports on matters such as Japanese whaling activities.

A navigation bar in the upper left corner of each ANC page lets you focus your attention on specific kinds of animal news:

* Pet News brings together reports on dogs and cats, veterinarians and pet owners, with special emphasis on courtroom actions, legislation and health news.
* Wildlife News covers everything from squirrels and chipmunks to elephants and eagles, lions, tigers, and bears. It also tracks news of circuses and fairs, birds on the beaches and in the woods, even dinosaurs.
* Farm News tracks reports about topics such as humane slaughter legislation, cloning, foot-and-mouth disease, and a West Nile vaccine for horses.
* Lab News provides information on worldwide experimentation on animals, workshops on genomic sequencing, protests against banks affiliated with researchers, and related topics.

Each page also features an "Archives" link in the upper right side of the screen. Click it to browse older stories in the file. To return to the top of the site, click the Top Stories link at the head of the navigation bar in the upper left corner of any ANC screen.

Besides browsing, you also can search the site's archives by keyword. On each ANC page is a data entry box in the left-hand column labeled "Enter keyword(s)." Type in a word or phrase -- such as CIRCUS or NEW MEXICO -- and click the Search button. The site displays a summary of stories containing your keywords, each with a hyperlinked headline connecting to the full report.

Other considerations for using the Animal News Center in your work:

1. The Animal News Center was founded by David Milner and Hedy Litke, who met while working for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Litke was the ASPCA's director of animal placement, while Miler was the group's Webmaster.

2. For Web connections to the ASPCA and scores of other animal-related organizations, click the site's Related Links link on the bottom of the navigation bar on the left side of any ANC screen. Links include famous groups, like the American Humane Association, the World Wildlife Fund, and the National Audubon Society, and lesser-known organizations, like Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Doris Day Animal League, and the International Society for Anthrozoology.

3. The ANC obtains its information from news and animal-related organizations, creating original reports from the data it retrieves. See the Content Partnership link on the navigation bar for details on fair use of the material in your news columns.

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