We received a message to the site this morning from a writer for the website The Dodo. In it, the writer insisted that she had a hot tip that Awesome Ocean was owned and controlled by SeaWorld. She wanted to get a response so she could write a “fair” piece.
Keep that word in mind.
First, the message:
My name is Melissa Cronin, I’m an editor for The Dodo. I’d like to inquire for a story I’m doing about your editorial staff and funding. Are your pieces created in-house? And who are you funded by? I received a tip that you are owned by SeaWorld, can you confirm this? I’d like to get as fair a story as I can out there, so I very much appreciate your time! (emphasis added)
It’s not an unfair request on its face. In fact, if she had bothered to read the “About” page, she would see this:
Editorial content and control is at the sole discretion of the Awesome Ocean team. We have assembled an amazing group of professionals from diverse disciplines who are united in the conservation of the residents of our oceans. Our team is built with University PhDs, Marine Mammal veterinarians, Marine Mammal Trainers, Education Specialists, and Everyday Heroes.
We want to thank SeaWorld for believing in this project. Their small start-up investment made our dream a reality. We hope that others who have a similar vision will consider contributing as well.
The truth is, it doesn’t take much these days to start a website and share your story. That’s the beauty of the Internet. I’ve been involved in a number of projects over the years, including websites, podcasts and social media groups – all dedicated to marine life, parks and aquaria.
My name is Eric Davis and you can read my bio here. All of the content produced for the site is done by myself or from a network of contributors that I have built over the years — all of them passionate about animals.
But, what about SeaWorld? From day one, the “About” page has made clear what that relationship is. I have long been a fan of SeaWorld — that’s no secret. So, when I approached someone from SeaWorld about a small start up donation, I was happy they responded. But that’s the extent of the relationship.
I have editorial control of the site and a talented and passionate group of contributors who provide content. We all do it because we write what we believe. You could basically read our posts and figure that out.
So, what about her “tip”? Could that tip be the very public email that SeaWorld sent out to fans informing them about this site? It too, is very open and honest. It reads in part:
You know we love the ocean and the many amazing creatures in it. Since you’re on our truth team, we figured you are in the same boat.
Therefore, we wanted to share with you a new, independent ocean news website: Awesome Ocean.
Because of our love of the ocean, we provided some help to get the site launched. We need more independent voices that talk about the oceans and the good things marine mammal parks and aquaria do to educate and raise awareness of the sea.
There you have the answer to all the questions. SeaWorld provided a start up grant after I approached them. I retain editorial control of the content, and myself along with a host of individuals create the content. We aren’t professional journalists. We are passionate people. We don’t scream and yell and attack. We let the other guys do that. It’s all been there from the beginning.
What about The Dodo? Would they answer the same questions? I’m serious. Would they provide the same information if we would like to do a “fair” piece?
Let’s look at how “fair” the writer at The Dodo is:
Every single tweet is about SeaWorld and chalk full of inflammatory language. Many of the subjects she writes about have another side to the story. But you won’t read them in their “fair” pieces. That’s who they are. No reason to pretend otherwise. Anyone want to bet on the “fairness” of the coming piece? I could retire early to write full-time.
We appreciate the enquiry and have provided our answer here. If The Dodo would like to provide the same information about their funding, editorial control and content, we would also love to write a fair piece.