Rafe Mair gets it wrong in attack on RegWatch producer (response)

LNG Burn-back Hazard is Minor

Above is the extended answers from the Dr. Hightower Interview with no re-asks

Rafe Mair accuses this producer of twisting and distorting an interview produced last spring for Resource Works and the show ‘Higher Ground’ that ran on theProvince.com. It was an interview with Dr. Michael Hightower from Sandia National Laboratories regarding risks around LNG tanker carriers. Dr. Hightower wrote the ‘bible’ on LNG Tanker risks. He is the international authority.

Dr. Hightower’s responses to the questions in the interview and the portions used in the final piece were extremely damaging to Mair and undermined the manufactured hysteria he and his colleague Dr. Finn have been promoting in the public sphere regarding LNG transport and the Woodfibre LNG project.

Mair has attacked my journalistic practices and ethics because it’s the only avenue he has to discredit what Dr. Hightower said in the interview. As I covered in the RegWatch piece ‘LNG Fear Mongering‘ in early August, Dr. Finn has been using Dr. Hightower’s research to claim there is a great danger to the community on the North Shore in the event of an LNG tanker spill.

‘Higher Ground’ episode – compare for yourself

However, Dr. Hightower in the interview said the opposite. In fact, in the unlikely case that a vapour cloud formed from an LNG tanker spill and travelled into a populated area and ignited, the injuries would be relatively “minor”. These are not doctored statements.

Our production of the piece met the highest of professional journalistic standards. Including, our process of doing what is called “re-asks”. 99% of all our interviews are conducted first and then we shoot the questions again in studio at another time. This allows us to conduct more fluid, less formal interviews that generate a lot of material that we edit down-to-time.

Sometimes, the person conducting the interview and the host for the show is different. Also, many interviews are done over skype and re-asks are the only way to do it. Re-asks are used in broadcast radio and TV all the time.

In regards to the Dr. Hightower interview, the Vice President of media relations, media relations officer at Sandia National Labs and Dr. Hightower, all knew before they agreed to the interview about the re-ask production practice and that the person doing the interview would not be the host in the final video. Of course, the Sandia media relations staff were in the room with Dr. Hightower during the entire interview. Following the shoot, I wrote the script with the questions and answers we were using, then we shot the re-asks.

Indeed, doing re-asks demands an even higher standard of journalistic ethics. It’s critically important that we get the questions and tone right in order to accurately represent the interview subject to the viewer.

We did represent Dr. Hightower accurately. We did NOT distort what he said.

This is the email from Sandia National Laboratories media relations department following the release of the video and the department’s and Dr. Hightower’s review.

They were very happy with the content of the final video and enjoyed working with us. If there had been any manipulation of Dr. Hightower’s interview then Sandia’s media relations department would be the ones sure to have complained. They did not. Because there was no manipulation. The only person complaining is Rafe Mair.

Email from Sandia National Laboratories Media Relations Following Video Release

Hightower Email follow up
Email from Sandia National Laboratories media relations department following the release of the video.

I maintain total editorial control over all videos I produce.

If any reader/viewer has questions or concerns please feel free to email me at brent.stafford@regulatorwatch.com

RegulatorWatch.com – October 6, 2015.

Want More Investigative Content?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here