How much oil has spewed into the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing eleven workers and touching off the biggest environmental catastrophe in our history? How do we even find out? We members of the general public tend to rely on reporters to give us the facts, but often they rely on sources with a vested interest in the information–in this case BP itself.
Riki Ott , author of Not One Drop, speaks to WNYC’s On The Media  about the way oil spill estimates are created and why reporters ought to be extremely skeptical of information given to them by BP.
From the transcript:
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So you’re essentially saying that the media have the attention span of a puppy. In other words, they ask a question and then the Exxon Valdez managers go, look, a squirrel, and then [LAUGHS] they’re off and running and they forgot what they asked.
RIKI OTT: That’s pretty much exactly what happened.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Do you think the media have been smarter when it comes to the Gulf Oil leak? Have we seen some progress then?
RIKI OTT: No, I’m sorry to say, because all the numbers are repeated that are given by BP. There’s no demand by the media to say, where’s the independent monitoring? Our government didn’t even ask for it.
Riki Ott’s chronicle of the horrors of the Exxon Valdez spill, Not One Drop, is available in our bookstore.