Monday, November 2, 2009

Newsweek: The Pit Bull Problem

Newsweek did an okay article about pit bulls this week
There aren't 61 million dogs in the US (2007 US Pet Census says 72 million). There aren't concrete numbers on American Pit Bull Terrier or American Staffordshire Terrier populations. And, I think many dogs, including many APBTs, would make acceptable guard dogs - resource guarding is a pretty well-established canine trait found, to some degree, in most dogs.

I really shouldn't complain too much, right? I mean, come on, it's Newsweek. You may take that comment in any manner you see fit.

4 comments:

Pibble said...

I agree - the article was just blah. I have no idea where the author came up with their Pit Bull population estimates. Some weird extrapolation done over French fries and Seven-up? Anyway, I would expect better from Newsweek, especially on such an important topic.

Rinalia said...

I do all my best extrapolating over fries and a soda! :)

They did a sort of follow up, more opinion piece than anything but perhaps a little better: http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/thehumancondition/archive/2009/11/02/my-pit-bull-conversion-joan-raymond-on-her-decision-to-probably-adopt-a-pit-bull.aspx

Kaelin said...

I was actually impressed by the article. Certainly, I would expect a more nuanced explication from a dog magazine, and perhaps even from a publication like the NY Times.

But the NY Times wouldn't likely do an article such as this, because the article is very general, just like the magazine for which it was written. In order to maintain a broad appeal for their audience, Newsweek/Time Magazine/Etc. sacrifice nuance and precision to create articles that have broad appeal, a narrative that is both "colorful" and yet ultimately uncomplicated, easily-digestible statements and clear conclusions.

I'm not making a claim that this is right or wrong, but that's the nature of these "news magazines". I would argue that it's unfair to expect Newsweek/the article to be something it isn't: i.e. a publication with hard journalism or a story targeted for an audience of dog people well-versed in the current discourse about dog behavior and breeds.

Re: the statistical errors, I noticed the article says "Web Exclusive" in the byline. I'm not certain of this, but I surmised that this article was for their website only. I imagine it's possible that the delegate fewer resources for a story that's web-only, instead of web and print. Also, with any kind of census, it seems to me that there are always variances from the "official" count, depending on one's source. (Not an excuse, but any poll has a margin of error.)

I totally don't mean to be rude or argumentative with this comment, btw. I was just interested in the discussion and I appreciated being notified about the article, because I'm not sure if I would've seen it had you not posted the link here. So lastly and most importantly: Thanks for the post! :D

Rinalia said...

Hey Kaelin - You're right, really. I don't expect much from Newsweek; they've significantly reduced the amount of text for their print articles, I am not surprised they wouldn't put forth an egregious amount of effort for their online articles.

I'm content with the fact they did an okay article on the subject.

As to the statistical error, perhaps it was a typo (the six is next to the seven, heh). :)