A Washington Post essay published Monday cited researchers who accused Discovery’s annual “Shark Week” of “overwhelmingly” featuring white men — many with the name “Mike” — as experts, “while emphasizing negative messages about sharks” instead of using more “positive language.”
The article by staff writer Daniel Wu, titled “‘Shark Week’ lacks diversity, overrepresents men named Mike, scientists say,” begins by describing biology professor Lisa Whitenack, who “loved sharks” as a child but “rarely saw any women she could look up to” when watching shark programming on television.
“Why would I know I could do that?” she said. “I don’t come from a family of scientists. I didn’t see very many people that looked like me on television.”
Whitenack eventually got involved in shark research, seeing the start of the pandemic as “an opportunity to study the source of her old misconceptions,” including whether the Discovery Channel’s shark-based programming was “feeding audiences the wrong messages about sharks — and who studies them.”
Leading a team of researchers to examine “hundreds” of Shark Week episodes that aired since the 1980s, Whitenack published a paper last month claiming that Discovery’s programming “emphasized negative messages about sharks, lacked useful messaging about shark conservation and overwhelmingly featured White men as experts — including several with the same name.” – READ MORE