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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Letters

Air Date: Week of November 28, 2003

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This week, we dip into the Living on Earth mailbag to hear what listeners have to say.

Transcript

[LETTERS THEME]

CURWOOD: Time now for comments from our listeners. Producer Guy Hand’s story “Going for the Kill” – about the remaking of nature TV – drew impassioned responses from many of you. Most are fans of nature programming and are disappointed by its new action-packed, “Reality-TV” format.

“I grew up with the David Attenborough quiet, respectful approach,” writes Pauline Groh, who hears Living on Earth on WUGA in Athens, Georgia. “Your program brought home to me how far we have yet to go in understanding our planet and ourselves. If the only thing that sells tickets is watching someone having their leg bitten off by a shark, what that does that say about us as a species?”

Chris Winters, a listener to WAMC in Albany, New York, agrees. “Thank you for presenting this perspective,” she writes. “As a naturalist and conservation biologist, I understand the problem of trying to ‘sell’ nature and conservation - it is a tough sell. My experience tells me that although many nature shows entertain and sometimes even teach, the tone of violence and danger often further separates the average person from nature with the fear it generates.”

Vic Banks, who hears us on WBEZ in Chicago, is even more pessimistic. “I've been to the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, having written and produced those type of programs. You be-labored an old issue of “True Nature” versus pumped-up “TV Nature” that is rapidly becoming academic, as there is now very little nature programming on U.S. markets. Your story didn't address an even more compelling question. When these very costly, often beautiful nature programs are produced, do they motivate anyone to help? Or do viewers pop a beer and click on ‘Fear Factor’ or ‘Joe Millionaire?’”

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