When it comes to oil spills, how would you like to see them reported? Some media outlets use litres, while others go with the measurement common to the industry – barrels.
This months oil spill at a Canadian Natural Resources Ltd site in northern Alberta near Red Earth has been reported in both. Something that is not at all unusual. The issue is when you use litres, the number is huge – 60,000. Compare that to 337 barrels. Which sounds worse to you?
Few people would argue a spill should be diminished by using the lower number, but if that’s the number the industry uses to measure it’s product, shouldn’t the media do the same?
The counter argument might be, few people understand what a barrel is when it comes to a unit of measurement and that’s why litres are used.
The fair, perhaps balanced approach, might be to use the common measurement and then give an equivalent to make the number accessible to the audience. Perhaps the next time you read an article, the unit used might give you an indication of where the media outlet or reporter stands on the issue.
Let us know what you think should be used to report a spill – a barrel or a litre.