PSM people love their acronyms and we all have our favorites. One of mine is “FUD” or Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. I generally use this acronym when discussing how the media reports stories about topics I am familiar with. It seems odd that whenever the media discusses a topic I understand well, they almost always get it wrong. It makes you wonder if maybe they are equally as wrong when it comes to topics I haven’t researched.
In any case, today’s issue comes from an Ohio radio station regarding a minor leak at a local cold storage. I was willing to let the wrong word use (Censor v. Sensor) slide. The issue I took umbrage at was paragraph 5 which read:
“The compound has been cited by experts as a possible culprit for the massive fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas last year, which flattened homes, killing 14 people and injuring 200 others. That plant was also storing ammonium nitrate. Investigators have been unable to determine an exact cause for the explosion.”
Let me go ahead and rewrite that to make it factually accurate and a little more to the point:
“Ammonia was erroneously cited by wildly speculating so-called experts as a possible culprit for the massive fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas last year, which flattened homes, killing 14 people and injuring 200 others. Investigators have been unable to determine an exact cause for the explosion; however that plant was also storing massive quantities of ammonium nitrate (a known explosive) which is now believed to have caused the destruction.”
There have been no ties to refrigeration grade ammonia and the West, Texas explosion since the horrible reporting and speculation of the first few days. Neither the CSB, ATF or the President of the United States in referencing the tragedy have spoken of a cause other than ammonium nitrate.
Frankly, there is nothing tying this story to West, Texas at all. In my opinion, the only reason to include the paragraph referencing it is that the reporter is trying to add FEAR, UNCERTAINTY and DOUBT in hopes that the article goes viral.
Note: There was a previous article on West, Texas as well as some photos I took of the devastation on my Google+ page.
Also, for reference, if you know of anyone else in the media thinking about writing an article concerning ammonia, please consider pointing them to my article “A reporters guide to Ammonia“