ABC’s Jim Avila struck ratings gold when he went after BPI. He’s used it as a platform to go after ‘big’ food and the meat industry. Maybe he can strike gold again or build a reputation as a modern day muckraker; a new age Upton Sinclair.
Let’s step behind the high production values of ABC World News, though, and examine Avila’s impartiality. Is he reporting hard news and being fair and impartial? Or should his reports be clearly labeled as op/eds? Maybe his Tweets can answer those two questions.
First, let’s look at an exchange he had with Dan Gainor, who describes himself as VP of Business and Culture for Media Research Center, a nondenominational Christian, and a FoxNews.com freelance columnist.
Miffed by Avial’s reporting on lean finely textured beef, an angry Gainor tweeted, “ABC's @JimAvilaABC helped kill 650 jobs with his "slimey" anti-beef coverage. Why not tell him how you feel? http://bit.ly/JOGSZO”
To which an annoyed Avila responded “@dangainor let's be clear. No one job loss if bpi had been upfront with consumers perhaps different result. Misdirected anger”
Should BPI have been upfront with consumers? If Avila had done his homework, he would know that BPI sells nothing to consumers. They sell their product to meat processing companies. Misplaced comment?
An even angrier Gainor shot back this little kiss on Avila’s cheek, “@JimAvilaABC We both know that's garbage. ABC, mostly you, said pink slime 52 times in 2 weeks. No firm can survive that. Irresponsible.”
So Avila, a man who surely knows the power of words, used the emotionally laden term ‘pink slime’ 52 times, conveniently ignoring the product’s proper name “Lean Finely Textured Beef.” Pink Slime=ratings gold; LFTB=next assignment Peoria. Avila now enjoys a plush Washington, DC, assignment where he can keep a close watch on those rascals at the USDA and FDA.
Avila didn’t want Gainor to get away with his ‘garbage’ comment so he responded with “@dangainor you have your opinion and are free to express. I deal in facts and our pieces were well researched and apparently well received”
Well received? Yes. Great ratings tell one part of the story but do little to tell the quality of the piece. Well researched? Factual? Where does he go for the truth? In response to some suggested expert resources on BSE by the American Meat Institute’s Janet Riley, Avila tweeted “@queenofwien I'm saying we don't go to lobbyists paid by meat industry to get our experts.”