Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Today's Greyhound News is Good News

The Committee to Protect Dogs sent a press release recently about the SJC decision to unanimously throw out George Carney's case to keep the Greyhound initiative off the ballot, so now there's absolutely no question that voters will have the ability to protect track dogs come November.

However, even bigger news is the subtle changes in the way the media is covering the story. After a lot of hard work, messaging and a mini media education campaign, the papers are finally realizing that it's important to stick to the facts on dog track numbers. Heck, I'll even go as far as to say most of the following reporters probably read my Race Track Jobs Mythos.

Without further ado, let's look how the papers are covering the tracks now, from good to bad to worse.

From the Taunton Gazette:
“People are going to vote their pocketbooks,” Carney said. “Jobs are very important.”
Between Wonderland and Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park, Carney estimates between 800 and 1,000 full-time and part-time jobs would be lost if greyhound racing is banned. “It will have a serious effect on employment,” he said.

According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, there are approximately 700 people employed by racetracks in the state, including horse tracks and auto speedways.
Thankfully, the Gazette got the memo. Now that the facts are out there, it's going to be awfully tough for Carney to keep playing with the math. (Also, 800-1,000? That's a new one from him. Maybe even he's getting the memo?)

The Gazette gets an A+ in today's "Good Journalism" grade.

The Boston Globe

The Globe still reduces the numbers to a he-said-she-said thing (old habits die hard), but at least they're allowing Greyhound supporters the ability to rebut Carney's numbers. Oddly enough, Carney also reports vastly different job figures to the Globe as he did the Gazette. Anyway, here's the relevant quote:
Carney added that the ban, if approved, will result in a loss of jobs; the two tracks employ about 650 part-time and full-time workers....

Supporters of the ban said Carney's employment figures are greatly inflated. "That number is closer to 250, according to the census," [Brian] Adams said recently.

We'll give the Globe a B. It's working hard to get better.

The Patriot Ledger

The Patriot Ledger's article seems a bit behind the times, but is still an improvement over what it probably would have published two months ago.
Supporters of the dog-racing ban, who are organized in a group called the Committee to Protect Dogs, have been disputing Carney’s claims that a dog-racing ban would leave at least 650 full- and part-time workers connected with the Raynham track without jobs. The dog-racing critics point to state figures that show only about 700 people are employed in the racetrack industry statewide.
It's not a bad paragraph - even if it reduces the numbers to a he-said-she-said argument, instead of presenting the facts. (Would it pain the media to report the facts? Is it so hard to say: "According to the State Department of Labor, the entire race track industry employs approximately 700 people, including horse and amateur car tracks, which won't be affected by the ballot question?") Yet, none of that's really the problem - at least they're allowing some sort of rebuttal to Carney's numbers, which is an improvement over several years ago.

The serious problem with the paragraph is it's the first statement that rebuts what George Carney has to say - and it comes all the way at the end, the 9th paragraph out of 11. That's not OK, or fair, or good journalism. In fact, the entire article is about Carney's claims - not the state's actual numbers or even the fact that Carney's court case was just tossed out by a unanimous SJC decision. So, despite the decent paragraph, the whole article may as well have been published in a Raynham Race Track company newsletter.

The Ledger's clear Carney bias and only half-way decent paragraph of rebuttal, all the way at the end, merits the paper a C- in good journalism. It would have had an F if not for the quoted paragraph.

The Boston Herald

Of course, no surprise, the Herald's report is the weakest of them all, turning the story into a money battle and dedicating almost every written word about George Carney's willingness to spend more than the 2.5 million his lobby did in 2000, treating his declaration to spend whatever it takes to defeat the grassroots as if it were a good thing. Don't worry, though, they were sure to rebut Carney's 2.5 million with the $250,000 the Committee to Protect Dogs has in the bank. Really, isn't that the story - right after a major SJC decision - you'd want to read about?

I'll give the Herald a D, because despite the fact that it fell for Carney's messaging and didn't allow the Committee to Protect Dogs to rebut Carney's job numbers (or better yet, use the state's facts on the matter), the article was actually about how rich Carney is and how willing he is to spend money to protect his industry. It's a bad article, both in terms of what it chooses to cover as well as even how it chooses to cover it, but at least they're consistent, right?

Wrap Up

So, despite the Herald and the Patriot Ledger's weaker stories, it's clear that today's Race Track news is good news - and that Greyhounds truly won the day. Their question is on the ballot, the suit to keep the question off the ballot was thrown out by a unanimous decision and, finally, key members of the media are finally starting to pay attention to the fact that Carney keeps making up these numbers as he goes along, all the while the state has statistical facts on the matter. People deserve an honest hearing about Greyhound Racing in the media, so hopefully this trend will only continue in the future.


Michelle Young Cuenant said...

Like all the "shell" games in ownership of the Greyhound after it's run its course and is deemed "useless"....George Carney will play his game until the end. However, it takes not even a child to see cruelty for what it ebay auction can ever cure broken limbs, frenzied temperaments and all the pain and lonliness that go with it.
A pox on all "good ol' boys" who share a common denominator with swamps, backwoods, and deception...
Michelle Young Cuenant

Anonymous said...

ProDog Announces Finalists in Search for Official Spokesdog: Will it be Dawn, Gordon or Snake?

Question #3 Supporters Asked to Vote for Favorite Ex-Racer

Somerville, MA – The Committee to Protect Dogs announced today that it has chosen three finalists in their search for an official spokesdog to become the face of Question #3 to phase out commercial greyhound racing in the Commonwealth. Supporters on the Question #3 ballot are being requested to visit to cast their vote for the official spokesdog which has been narrowed down to Dawn, Gordon and Snake (stories copied below).

"We are searching for one special greyhound to help tell the story of the gentleness of these dogs who are victims of the cruelties of dog racing,” said MSPCA-Angell President Carter Luke. “Massachusetts residents have shown their support of the Greyhound Protection Act in overwhelming numbers and now it is time to highlight the individual dogs that have suffered for mere entertainment value.”

The Greyhound Protection Act Spokesdog Search officially kicked-off July 1. Public voting for the official Greyhound Protection Act spokesdog will remain open until August 11. At the end of this period the Committee to Protect Dogs will announce the new campaign spokesdog whose likeness will appear on official campaign materials until the November vote.

“Dogs play an important role in our lives and in our families, and they deserve to be protected,” said Michael Markarian, Executive Vice President of The Humane Society of the United States. “We are confident that once voters see the face of greyhound racing, they will vote to protect man’s best friend from cruelty and abuse.”

The Committee to Protect Dogs is a state ballot question committee dedicated to passing stronger dog protection laws in the Commonwealth. Committee co-chairs include representatives of the MSPCA-Angell (, The Humane Society of the United States ( and greyhound protection group GREY2K USA ( For more information visit

When Anne Restino met Dawn three years ago, Dawn had raced at Wonderland for four years, while Anne had suffered several painful losses, culminating in a divorce. Anne and Dawn rescued one another. Friendly with strangers, Dawn has become a favorite in Falmouth, her hometown, and has a following of admirers on the main street. With Anne she has developed her own special language. Dawn "talks" with her jaws—not just a discreet chatter of teeth, but a loud “Chop! Chop!” that can't be ignored. “Look at me!” she says. “Get up! Let's go!” Dawn's talent was put to good use when, with Anne's help, she collected signatures for the Greyhound Protection Act. She is a joyful, outgoing girl who makes friends for greyhounds everywhere.

Emily McElfresh has fostered 10 greyhounds. She was able to let nine go to other homes, but could not part with Gordon. Gordon raced at both Raynham and Wonderland before he was retired at the age of four. A big softie at 80 pounds, he can be crushed by a harsh word and was originally terrified when introduced to a couple of pet ferrets. However, he enjoys meeting people, cats and small dogs, and shares his bed with a five-pound Chihuahua mix. He is a serious gourmet and his favorite treat is a container of frozen applesauce. What Gordon likes most of all is to be with Emily, and it is his self-appointed job to be in the same room with her at all times.

Snake lives with Anne Albanese, her two-year-old granddaughter Alana, and another rescued greyhound. When Snake was three years old he suffered a severe broken leg while racing at Raynham Park. Treated with a "soft wrap" at the track, the break healed badly, and Snake still limps. But that doesn't slow him down. Terrified of everything in the house at first— especially, for some reason, the chandelier and the ceiling fan—he is now an extrovert who barges into groups of strangers and demands to be petted. Children also scared him in those days, but now he and Alana are friends. Among his enthusiasms are watching TV (animal programs preferred) and singing in the car.

# # #

About Ryan's Take