Case Studies in Earth & Environmental Science Journalism

Jaws 2001: Shark Attacks & the Media.



Dear friends--

I realize that you are only going to have 4 days to read the booklet about shark attacks. When you first get it, you might think I've gone overboard (pun slightly intended), as it's fairly girthy. Please do not be put-off by this. I can explain.

About 40 pages of the "Background" section consists of just a single figure or graph per page. It's meant to give an impression both of broad overall trends and the manner in which the experts have tried to present this case to a popular audience. We will NOT be statistically analyzing and poring over every last little one.... unless someone insists!

Likewise, the "Popular Articles 2002" section will at first look kind of unfriendly because right in the middle is a +/- 20-page transcript of a NMFS / NOAA open-media scientific press conference. It's there because some key participants from earlier articles show up again and clarify / qualify their ideas; more importantly, there are popular media follow-up articles that respond directly to it from a very wide spectrum of political opinions. Not only was it relevant, but it's also just too close to the structure of our course for me to justify leaving it out. So if you're short on time, definitely read that and its follow-ups. Just a suggestion.

Also, there are gross victim pictures in the first article.

Questions to Ponder and Discuss

Science Questions:



Policy and Science Background information:

Woolgar, Justin D.; Cliff, Geremy; Nair, Raj; Hafez, Hany; and John V. Robbs. 2001. Shark Attack: Review of 86 Consecutive Cases. Journal of Trauma (50), pp. 887-891.

International Shark Attack File

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1997. Atlantic shark fisheries background & summary statement. In Federal Register vol. 62, no. 97, pp. 27585-27586. May 20, 1997.


Popular Articles: 2001 (Contemporary analysis)

McCarthy, Terry. 2001. Summer of the Shark: Why can't we be friends? Time, July 30, 2001. Cover & pp. 34-41.

Paige, Sean. 2001. The Jaws of Government. National Review Online, August 8, 2001.

Shark-Feeding dives causing attacks. The Straits Times, August 21, 2001, p.8.

The Statistical Shark. The New York Times, September 6, 2001, p. A22.

Saletan, William. 2001. Attack of the Shark Lobby., September 7, 2001.

Meyer, Dick. 2001. Beware of Land Sharks., September 7, 2001.

Ballingrud, David. 2001. 'Most dangerous shark' one to fear. St. Petersburg Times, September 10, 2001, p. 1A.

Broad, William J. 2001. Protect sharks? Attacks fuel old argument. The New York Times, September 11, 2001, pp. F1 and F7.

Klinkenberg, Jeff. 2001. The Sharkman's summer. St. Petersburg Times, September 13, 2001, p. 1D.


Popular Articles: 2002 (Retrospective analysis; responses to scientific press event)

'Summer of the Shark' in 2001 More Hype Than Fact, Say Numbers From International Shark Attack File. AScribe Newswire, February 18, 2002.

LeBlanc, Pamela. 2002. Afraid of sharks? That fear has no teeth; stinging insects kill more. Cox News Service, May 20, 2002.

Full transcript of Shark Attack News Conference held by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and SeaGrant, May 21, 2002.

Mitchell, Steve. 2002. Experts: 'People to blame for shark attacks.' United Press International, May 21, 2002.

Paige, Sean. 2002. Shark Spin Soup. National Review Online, June 7, 2002.

ISAF--Notes on "Sharks in Perspective: From Fear to Fascination" conference. June 12- 14, 2002.

Williams, Caroline. 2002. Biting Back. New Scientist (175) p. 3434. July 27, 2002.

DeVise, Daniel. 2002. Summer of Shark hype leaves scars. The Miami Herald, August 12, 2002, p


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