|Circus Elephants, Part 2: Cole Bros. Circus|
|Sunday, 24 March 2013 00:00 | Written by Tonya Kay | Blog Entry|
Last week in Circus Elephants, Part 1: Seeing With Newly Informed Eyes, I shared how hard I had tried to be a dutiful journalist and nab opposing viewpoints on elephants in circuses, only to be shut down suddenly, have interviewees drop out at the last minute and even be called horrible names entirely unprovoked—all for asking informed questions. I then teamed up with another writer (referenced below as Unnamed Journalist) who had created his own journalistic opportunities on the same controversial elephants-in-circuses story and got to sit in on a slew of email conversations that, when all the chitchat is edited out, is unintentionally revealing.
The Story Changed
Here's what they themselves "said" in typing (all dates are from 2009; the italics type is my emphasis; the words in brackets are there to protect the identity of the Unnamed Journalist):
The Email Trail
Renee Storey, Vice President of Administration of the Cole Bros. Circus, 8/19: "As always, we welcome people who have interest in animal welfare and a sincere desire to learn more about the training methods and animal husbandry practices of circus animal caretakers ... Unfortunately, the people who forward complaints about circus animals are those who base their opinions on what they have read on the internet, as published by organizations such as PETA that embrace a very radical agenda, one more concerned with success—by any means—than with truth. We invite people opposed to use of animals to visit our animal compounds and speak with our trainers. As you know, the complainers prefer to adhere to their preconceived notions, lest discovery of the facts disappoint them."
Georgia's Unnamed Newspaper publishes Unnamed Journalist's article about circuses, the focus of which is positive alternatives to circuses. Neither specific circus conditions nor specific circus names are mentioned in the article.
Dan Baltulonis, 9/13: "[Unnamed Journalist], I appreciate you taking me up on my offer. For the policy info & "legal" issues I will have to set up an interview with our VP of Administration, Renee Storey. She has all of the updated facts & information. I will send your e-mail to Renee Storey."
Unnamed Journalist, 9/13: "... thanks for doing all of this on a Sunday. Nothing would please me more than to write a shining review for your circus. Let’s start with the performing animals' health records. I’d like to review those in the meantime."
Dan Baltulonis, 9/13: forwards Cole Bros. Circus Animal Care Policy.
And thus a third interview with Cole Bros. Circus personnel is offered then retracted.
What My Story Has Become
How awkward that Renee Storey, Vice President of Administration of the Cole Bros. Circus describes her and Cole Bros. staff actions perfectly in her insults aimed at those "opposed to the use of animals (in circuses)." How interesting that Craig Snedikel, Fire Marshal of the Township of North Brunswick, felt comfortable enough with Cole Bros. Circus staff to reveal that he was seeking information to "shut these people up." Who are “these people”? His community members? Is he seeking ways to shut his community up? Anyone reading this should be insulted—whether they are opposed to animals in circuses or not.
I tried to write a story presenting opposing viewpoints on the use of elephants in circuses. Instead I wrote an article on transparency evasion and social pacification. As a writer, I'm not evaded. As a human, I'm not pacified. Rather, a frustrating revelation like this enlivens me to action.
I have the resources at my fingertips to discover truths that mainstream newspapers won't publish. I am empowered by my inner voice that knows how to cut through the shit and read the perspective of the journalist rather than the words. I am inspired by other writers, reporters, bloggers and tweeters who use their pens and keyboards as tools to express the unpublished point of view in this new age.
Let’s get these articles to the people who need to read them. This is our time to stand up and forever change the stories we tell.
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