Gazette article on KSPCA unbalanced

May 24, 2013

On May 1, I commented on the Animal Welfare Task Force article by Rachel Swick Mavity, both online and on FaceBook. But it really bothered me, so I contacted the reporter directly. I told her someone should have done a better job fact-checking the article, because there were inaccuracies. I also felt that it was unbalanced, only using quotes from the one member of the task force who was lobbying against the recommendations.

Ms. Mavity responded, excusing herself as having made a “slight slip up” in dates, and justified quoting the KCSPCA leadership as factually accurate reporting of their statements. This lack of attention to detail, let alone the bias of the article in only reporting what the KCSPCA has to say about the recommendations, does not engender confidence in the quality of this reporter’s work, or the Cape Gazette’s editing staff.

I was impressed, however, that she took the time to contact me right away. So I emailed her back. But her responses, while appreciated, continued to include excuses. And when I did not hear from her after a few days, I posted a blog about our correspondence, my similar experience with a reporter from another newspaper, and my overall experiences with the news media and elected officials in Delaware on animal welfare and control issues.

On May 13, I emailed the New Castle County independent audit report on their dog control contract to all the reporters I have had contact with over the last 18 months. Ms. Mavity and one other reporter contacted me. But it seems that by May 15, Ms. Mavity read my blog and was not happy. In fact, she seemed to feel that I was engaging in “cloak and dagger” behavior (all of my internet posts and emails identify me by name), dragging her good name all over the internet.

She also seemed to feel it was significant that I had not written a letter to the editor of the Cape Gazette. At that time, the blog had been viewed by fewer than 50 people. But since Ms. Mavity wants my comments and criticisms made to her newspaper directly, here they are.

The Animal Welfare Task Force recommendations concern statewide issues of animal welfare and control. Animal welfare is a humanitarian issue; animal control is an enforcement issue and opens the door to civil rights concerns.

Lack of accuracy, research and balance in reporting on the AWTF recommendations - and making excuses for it afterwards - is a poor standard for a newspaper that serves the largest county in Delaware. In addition, Ms. Mavity’s sensitivity to criticism and objection to having her name posted on the internet is, in my opinion, immature and unprofessional.

Catherine Samardza

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