Metro article did not expand beyond the primary research article on sounds of healthy coral that can attract fish
The article “Dying coral reefs could be saved by attracting fish with underwater music” was written by Jeff Parsons and published to the metro.co.uk website on December 2nd, 2019. The news article highlights the research done by Dr. Stephen D. Simon and their colleagues that was published in Nature Communications where researchers from different institutions used audio recordings from healthy parts of the reef and played it back in areas of the reef that were struggling and had started to show symptoms of coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef. The researchers did see a significant resurgence of species diversity and abundance after the sounds were played. The researchers saw a doubling of overall species abundance and a 50% increase in diversity.
The article in Metro UK starts off with an inaccurate and misleading title, calling the sounds that the researchers used to attract the fish “Music”, implying that the sounds were engineered in a way to form a cohesive and harmonic sound, when the researchers only used sound recordings from healthy parts of the ocean. Jeff Parsons included information from the article in a non-exaggerated and accurate way, and included quotes from the authors of the research, but did not reach out to any other sources. The article was written in a neutral tone and there was no exaggeration or bias displayed by Parsons that was obvious. The summary of the paper was oversimplified, and there was very little reporting being done outside the researcher’s quotes.
The news article failed to provide the link or any easy way to find the resources for this article. While the paper mentioned the names of the universities that the information came from, it did not mention anything else and tracking down the research paper was difficult, despite it being in Nature Communications.
Parsons did write a very short paper that was very to the point and presents information in a very straightforward way with very little evidence of any reporting being done and no secondary sources being used at all, which is in line with the quick, social media-centric approach that Metro UK uses, as they advertise their social media quite frequently on their pages, with this particular page showing 9 links during my search, and a plethora of ads.
Jeff Parsons, a reporter on metro.co.uk, wrote the article, “Dying coral reefs could be saved by attracting fish with underwater music,” based on the research conducted by a team of scientists from UK’s University of Exeter and University of Bristol, as well as Australia’s James Cook University, and researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
The article very briefly describes the methods of the experiment and mentioned that the speakers played “sounds that are lost when reefs are quietened by degradation”, which lacks a lot of information for the reader, such as what kinds of sounds were specifically played. The title of the article is slightly misleading as the loudspeakers are technically not playing music. The article clearly explained the reasoning behind the experiment and what questions the researchers tried to explore by incorporating many quotes from the researchers themselves. Using quotes from these researchers, Parsons also helped to provide the reader with some background information on the ecology of coral reef ecosystems and the importance of these natural sounds, such as the sounds of other fish and shrimp. These sounds could be used to attract juvenile fish to settle in these areas. These juvenile fish are important because they are a first possible step to recovering these dead coral reefs as fish can help to “clean the reef and create space for corals to regrow”. The article clearly explained the results of the experiment and how the loudspeakers did indeed attract fish to these reefs by increasing the number of species by 50 percent. It was emphasized that the proposed method used for coral restoration should not be the only technique for restoring coral reefs.
Overall, the article did not contain any personal opinions or jargon, clearly explained some necessary background knowledge for the research, and included several direct quotes from the researchers. Unfortunately, it lacks in the description of methods as well as a link to the scientific article to easily access more details on the paper, although Parsons did include in the text that the paper was published in Nature Communications and listed the names and universities of the researchers. Using this information, I was still unable to track down the specific published paper.
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