ABC HEADLINE: "German fishing boat flies giant kite to save fuel" News online 9/3/2010
ABC REPORTED: ABC reprinted a Reuters news report outlining plans for Germany's largest fishing trawler to use a giant kite to reduce fuel consumption. The report includes the following statements:
"Parlevliet said the SkySails system was expected to cut Maartje Theadora's fuel consumption by about 10 per cent in the first phase of the pilot project..."
"Over the next two years of development, Parlevliet said fuel savings through the system, which would also cut greenhouse gas emissions, were projected to increase to up to 30 per cent."
The opening paragraph reads: "Germany's largest fishing vessel will leave the Netherlands this week, towed by a giant kite harnessing trade winds for South America that will help cut its fuel consumption by up to a third."
THE COMPLAINT: The savings in fuel consumption quoted are speculative and are yet to be realised. Use of the word "will" in the opening paragraph overstates the level confidence in the projected fuel savings that is not supported by the content of the report. Readers stopping at this paragraph may be left under the false impression that the savings are more certain than they actually are.
Suggest re-phrasing this paragraph to read: "Germany's largest fishing vessel will leave the Netherlands this week, towed by a giant kite harnessing trade winds for South America that may help cut its fuel consumption by up to a third."
Received 21 April 2010
Your concerns have been investigated by Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit which is separate to and independent of program making areas within the ABC. We have reviewed the article, assessed it against the ABC’s editorial standards and sought and considered material provided by ABC News.
Audience and Consumer Affairs believes the first paragraph of the report makes it sufficiently clear that the cut in fuel consumption is uncertain by saying it will cut consumption by “up to a third”. A cut as small as 1 per cent would fit this description.
COMMENT: Any savings in fuel consumption is to be congratulated, but don't go patting yourself on the back before the results are in.