fe-with-anti-ev-statementseditors-blog-entry3As a journalism professor, media criticism is essentially what I do for a living. So, one of these days, I really ought to get around to systematically chronicling, and deconstructing, the strong anti-EV sentiment that’s so deeply embedded in so much mainstream media coverage of EVs.

I’m certain, for instance, if I did a systematic survey of headlines of online stories about EVs published in outlets such as Time.Com, The Washington Post, The L.A. Times, CBSNews.Com, and, of course, FoxNews.Com, I’d find plenty of evidence for the claim that mainstream American news media coverage tilts decidedly toward the negative, the ill-informed, and, most strongly, toward emphasizing tired old – and simply inaccurate — stereotypes about EVs.

If you’ve watched, read or listened to mainstream media coverage of EVs you know these stereotypes well by now: EVs are too expensive, EVs are impractical, EVs pollute just as much as gasoline cars, EVs don’t get us far enough, EV range anxiety — in short, EVs are completely inferior to gasoline cars and, apparently, always will be.

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Untruths about EVs
Of course, none of this is actually true – and good, critical, reflective journalists, of the type I try to cultivate in the newswriting and reporting classes I teach at University of Denver, would recognize this, rather than plugging mindlessly into the same old, ill-informed “sheep journalism” that characterizes much, though, to be fair, not all American mainstream media coverage of EVs.

In any case, until I get around to doing a systematic analysis of mainstream media coverage of EVs in the U.S. – which would require a fairly significant time investment on my part, I’ll continue to, deconstruct that coverage, and challenge it, on an individual story basis.

I just did that below a Time.Com article, ‘It Costs a Lot of Money to ‘Save’ on Gas with a 118-MPG Car’, written by Brad Tuttle in which Tuttle repeats many of the same tired old critiques of EVs, most notably that they aren’t economically feasible.

Tuttle’s basic message: EVs don’t save, even in the long run. Of course, Tuttle doesn’t actually account specifically for inflation, or for the possibility that gas will push above $5 per gallon in the next six or seven years. He seems to assume this won’t ever happen (because it suits his status quo tilted analysis?).

In fact, Tuttle’s analysis is pretty darn shaky. For instance, after acknowledging, about halfway through the article that he hasn’t paid attention to gas prices, he points to analyses that assume $5 per gallon as their comparative basis. Of course, he uses a hybrid, the Prius, as his primary example. To be fair, Tuttle also uses the Volt.

A one dimensional view of EVs
Tuttle’s basic message: EVs don’t save, even in the long run. Of course, Tuttle doesn’t actually account specifically for inflation, or for the possibility that gas will push above $5 per gallon in the next six or seven years. He seems to assume this won’t ever happen (because it suits his status quo tilted analysis?).

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Nor does he take other key factors into account, including maintenance costs. Finally, like too many other analyses, Tuttle’s analysis is grounded in short-term economics. This short-sighted, one-dimensional view – which sadly also happens to be the single most dominant view in American society today — fails to take into account the larger, long-term environmental, health, and, yes, economic costs associated with a gasoline-powered auto fleet.

Perhaps one day, if enough of us continue to fight against one-dimensional media representations of EVs like Tuttle’s, for instance, by challenging journalists in the comments stream below an article, as I do underneath Tuttle’s, one day we will win the battle and we’ll finally see reasoned, informed, fair, reflective coverage of EVs in the mainstream American news media.

Then again, maybe not.

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Here’s the comment I posted below Tuttle’s piece on Time.Com, ‘It Costs a Lot of Money to ‘Save’ on Gas with a 118-MPG Car’ –>

“Ho hum, yet another short-sighted critique of EVs. What a surprise…not. The status quo, one in which the U.S. is totally dependent on foreign oil, where billions of dollars flow out of the U.S. into the coffers of dictators in the middle east, one in which all of us breathe in  toxins from the gasoline cars we are sitting in and which are around us, one in which we are beholden to Big Oil companies and have no shot at fueling independence (EV + home solar  delivers fueling independence!), and, finally, a status quo in which we are so focused on the short term that we can’t see the longer term economic, environmental and health benefits of EVs, which can be, and are being, fueled by renewable energy, that’s great isn’t it?”

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