Editorial: Can’t blame the oil news

Published 10:25 am Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on Monday blasted news coverage of the oil mess in the Gulf of Mexico, saying it was scaring off tourists.

He noted the oil slick has not touched Mississippi shores.

He said the coverage made the Gulf Coast seem as if “the whole coast from Florida to Texas is ankle-deep in oil.”

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Um, Gov. Barbour, the news media didn’t make it seem that way. In fact, the news media is your best friend in fending off the unintended impressions people who don’t follow the news get.

Instead, governor, blame the people who prefer to read only the headlines or who only listen to the soundbites. More so, blame the people who don’t read, watch or listen to the news and just go off what they hear from their friends or from the entertainment media like late-night talk shows.

The fact is, news organizations such as USA Today have frequently printed maps of the spill. In fact, the map is updated every day on USA Today’s website.

Same for the New York Times.

And you can visit NOLA.com — the New Orleans Times Picayune’s website — for animated maps of the oil spill, daily forecasts of the oil spills trajectory, maps of closed fishing areas and graphics of how the oil spill occurred in the first place and plenty more.

Perhaps Gov. Barbour himself doesn’t consume much in the way of news. Maybe then he would know how much the news media have done to inform people. He ought not blame the media if some people choose to not be as informed as others.

Sure, the governor was just grandstanding for the sake of politics. The real blame remains with BP. So here is the truth of the tourism matter:

Indeed, the oil spill has not touched Mississippi shores, but there looms the possibility of that happening this season. If you are a tourist planning a vacation, do you want to take a chance?

Probably not.

We suggest tourists explore Minnesota instead. Come check out one of the leading states in exploring sources of renewable energy.