Ghost ships and GM assist green groups in NGO watch

Controversy surrounding the fleet of so-called ‘ghost ships’ bound for Hartlepool and GM foods has seen environmental groups consolidate their place in PRWeek’s NGO Watch survey.

Figures for October saw Friends of the Earth (FoE) rise to second place in the table thanks to its involvement in raising awareness of the flotilla of US ships, which began arriving in the UK this month for the removal of hazardous chemicals.

Researcher Louise Speake of survey compilers Infonic said that FoE’s coverage reflected its early ownership of the ‘ghost ship’ issue: ‘They picked up on it almost immediately and so to a large extent it was FoE the media contacted,’ she said.

Meanwhile, criticism of the Government’s consultation on GM foods contributed to the coverage gained by FoE and Greenpeace, the latter gaining numerous column inches after dubbing the process a ‘political fudge’.

September’s NGO Watch leader The Red Cross remains at the top of the table after a significant increase in media coverage as a result of the bombing of its Baghdad headquarters in late October. The decision to cut the numbers of International Red Cross staff in Iraq and the surrounding debate about the security of the territory prompted 465 mentions. Speake believes this trend is likely to be carried over into November’s figures, after the announcement of further staff reductions in Iraq as a result of the continued security risk.

Human Rights Watch was at number ten, with 54 mentions, after publishing a report claiming that 94 Iraqi civilians had been killed by US soldiers and criticising the US for failing to investigate their deaths.

Christian Aid narrowly missed out on a position in the table following its criticism of Iraq’s Coalition Provisional Authority for allegedly failing to adequately account for oil revenues.

The RSPCA maintained its high standing without campaigning on any single issues. The charity attributed its media coverage to the rise in animal cruelty cases reported to the organisation in late September and October.

Protests against the arms trade were the principal sources of coverage for top ten stalwarts Oxfam and Amnesty International, while, outside the top ten, Cafod gained four media mentions for pointing out that 672,000 people had died from starvation during illusionist David Blaine’s well-publicised self-enforced hunger stunt. NGO Watch is compiled by Infonic based on coverage in print and online news sources.

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