Did WaPo Show Media Bias Against Duck Hunters?

The Washington Post ran a Potomac River duck-hunting story yesterday that's pretty misleading (as a Potomac waterfowler, I feel qualified to make that statement).

Reporter Cody Calamaio makes only a weak attempt to tell the pro-hunting side of the story, and it isn't presented until the last couple paragraphs. Calamaio's thesis is clear: duck hunting disrupts the lives of area residents, and many waterfowlers break the law. The facts to refute his argument are actually contained within the story, if you read carefully. Let me explain.

Calamaio writes:

Despite the boundary [designating an area closed to hunting], police continue to cite people for hunting waterfowl within the urban area.

Wow, sure sounds like a lot of yokels with shotguns are out there breaking the rules! That is, until three paragraphs later when it's noted that only four people were cited this year for crossing the boundary. In other words, only one, perhaps two boats broke the law during a 5-month period in a crowded public area. While even one citation is too many, that's a pretty good track record if you ask me. And, as the article notes (and I can personally attest), the boundary can be difficult for first-timers to recognize.

As for Calamaio's implication that duck hunting is loud and disruptive, he writes in the opening paragraph:

Barbara Brown knows that waterfowl hunting season has begun when the sound of gunfire interrupts her Saturday slumber. Brown, 65, lives on Admirals Way in Potomac, near the C&O Canal National Historic Park, in a house she had thought was far enough south of the legal hunting zone to avoid hearing shotgun blasts.

The WaPo makes it sound as if Brown's life is put on hold by all the shooting. It isn't until the very last paragraph that we learn Brown in fact "doesn't have a problem with hunters using the river" and has lived in her "dream home" for nine yearsguess the noise can't be too bad.

The story also notes that about 300-400 people hunt waterfowl in the area described, all of whom pay for hunting licenses, $9 Maryland migratory game bird stamps and $15 federal stamps. No mention is made of the many ways in which that revenue benefits wildlife and even the people whose lives are supposedly disrupted by duck hunters (Brown herself enjoys kayaking and other public-land recreation).

The story does include one very accurate statement that I can't stress enough to all of you:

The Potomac isn't a popular place to hunt ducks and geese.

That's right, the Potomac is terrible. My buddies and I never kill any ducks. We rarely even see any. I advise hunting elsewhere.

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