Reporting on Reporters: Time Magazine

Time Magazine is one of the most honored and celebrated news publications on newsstands today. And that may be part of its problem, no one gets their news from newsstands anymore. Despite its history of award winning journalism, the publication displays a shockingly outdated model when it comes to reporting on seafood.

Time Magazine Reporters Pigeonhole Seafood Coverage

Here are the categories Time reporters appear to be directed to use in order to pigeonhole its seafood coverage; Farmed vs. Wild, emptying the oceans, environmental hyperbole, ambiguous health issues. If they’re writing on seafood it seems the report must fit in one of those categories or it doesn’t get any ink. Lazy, outdated and marginalizing might describe this editorial strategy.

A Pattern Persists

This is not simply a vague observation, it’s a well-documented pattern that has persisted for years. When you’re not spending copious amounts of your time at the newsstand, you can read through some examples for yourself here, here, here and here.

Digital Distortion?

In its latest, not particularly interesting, retread of a story about how salmon gets its color Time produces an accompanying video. Hats off to them for straying from the print model a mere 12 years after YouTube went live.

In the video Time leans on its old editorial crutches by starting off reporting that (0:38) “…wild salmon is better than farmed says Dr. David Katz.”

Really Time?

  • A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) study published in theJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics “… showed that consuming farm-raised salmon was an excellent way to increase omega-3 fatty acids in the blood to levels that corresponded to reduced heart disease risk”

Then Time transitions into a nebulous health issue noting that, (0:48) “…farmed salmon might not provide as many omega 3’s.” Perhaps we should ask Harvard medical school if that’s accurate?

  • “…farm-raised salmon tend to have more total fat — and therefore more omega-3 fat — than wild ones. Bottom line: Don’t stress too much about your salmon selection.”

Time Magazine Lapped

Time also notes (0:54) that omega-3 content in farmed fish is lower than it used to be but are still, “ten to 100 fold higher than most other food groups.”

Wait, what? This is the salient point Time choses to highlight in its reporting, that the omega-3’s are lower these days but are still 100 times higher than in other foods? That’s like saying Usain Bolt is slower these days… but he’s still 100 times faster than anyone who works at Time magazine. News? Not quite.

Farmed and wild salmon complement each other. Both are safe and delicious. And seafood is the healthiest animal protein on the planet. Perhaps Time will one day abandon its outdated editorial tactics and embrace the actual seafood narrative that published, peer-reviewed science has.