WSB-TV’s Segment on HSUS: "Shoddy Reporting"?

A week and a half ago, WSB-TV Atlanta posted a story from their newscast investigating HSUS donations but removed both the text article and video shortly thereafter. Google’s cache of the page was swiftly burned as well. Over the course of the following week, the video repeatedly popped up on a number of websites only to be quickly taken down due to “copyright violation”. If in fact WSB-TV is truly concerned about copyright violations, why have they done nothing about the hundreds of other video segments from their news program posted on YouTube? Some of them have been up there for years and yet the HSUS video, whether it was posted on YouTube or elsewhere, was removed very shortly after posting each time it appeared. Finding the video before it was taken down became like a game of whack-a-mole.

This curious game led to speculation on the reasons behind the frantic action to snuff the report. Some have wondered if the possibility that the report calls into question the 501(c)3 status of the HSUS is the reason. Another guess came from a reader named Hillary who stated she works for HSUS. She left a comment on my blog which reads, in part:

WSB-TV has issued a correction and removed the story from its web site. Consider that this news station has lawyers to determine when and if they’re at fault for shoddy reporting. They don’t simply pull a story at the first sign of disagreement; in fact, they’re probably thrilled when a story gets as much attention as the one about HSUS has.

First, the “correction” referred to is a “clarification” which reads as follows:

We have a clarification to make about our story on the Humane Society of the United States. WSB-TV reported that HSUS spent almost $7 million for victims of Hurricane Katrina. HSUS says all $34 million of the funds raised in the wake of Katrina are tracked on its web site in a detailed report. If you would like to see their entire report, CLICK HERE.

This hardly sounds like a reporter backing off a story. To me, it sounds like the station wants us to know that they say X and HSUS says Y and if we want to check the figures for ourselves, we can visit the HSUS website. Fair enough.

Second, to imply that WSB-TV lawyers initiated a takedown of the report because it was total bunk is to assume that the station and the investigative reporter do not stand behind the story. Let’s be clear: To my knowledge, there has been no statement from either Ms. Amanda Rosseter (the reporter) or WSB-TV indicating they do not stand behind the reporting in the HSUS piece. Therefore unless and until I hear otherwise, I absolutely defend the journalistic integrity of the piece and make no assumptions to the contrary. The fact is that we don’t know for certain why the video keeps being removed from the net (claims of “copyright violation” notwithstanding) but to my mind there is no reason to assume it’s due to “shoddy reporting”.

The good news is that the video is available for download as a torrent here. (Simple explanation of what a torrent is, here.) And a transcript of the video is posted on PetPAC’s site. Video posted for viewing here and here. There’s a wmv available here.

ABC News Atlanta Segment on HSUS Donations: Now You See it, Now You Don’t

I am truly confounded by the disappearing act on the WSB-TV news segment on HSUS donations. I haven’t found anything to indicate the station doesn’t stand behind its report. At any rate, the video is available here (although perhaps it will disappear at some point too?) and PetPAC has posted a transcript as well (same caveat). I hope the station reposts the segment on its website or issues some kind of clarification as to why it was removed.

Added, 5-22-09: YouTube posting of video here.

Added, 5-23-09: See it here and here, before it disappears (momentarily anyway)

We’ve Always Been at War with Eastasia

Whatever the reasons, the WSB-TV Atlanta report examining the fact that many pet lovers incorrectly believe their donations to HSUS support their local shelters, has been pulled. The news site removed the video and text article (including HSUS response and reader comments) and apparently demanded YouTube remove the video as well (claiming copyright violation). All that’s left is a “clarification” from the news station regarding the Hurricane Katrina funds and of course HSUS has posted their response (to a story now deleted) on their own site. CCF has a write up of the piece here.

So I guess we’re all just supposed to forget about the whole thing. And we should definitely not remember the part about how the station checked on their state’s HSUS activities and found them to be primarily directed toward legislation, not sheltering. In the piece, the GA director for HSUS agreed that legislation and lobbying were her group’s main focus. I’m sure we should delete that from our memory banks because if we were to think about it, well that would call into question the 501(c)3 status of the HSUS, which might get someone riled up.

ABC News Atlanta Segment on HSUS Donations

Text article from the news program (with HSUS response) here.

UPDATE, May 16: The text article, including the HSUS response and reader comments, has been removed from the website without explanation. Page now says “The story you are trying to view is no longer available through this Web site.” Guess at will. Cache version of the page here.