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June 05, 2006

Global Warming "Journalism" Environment  Media

In her recent interview of Al Gore, NPR's Terry Gross pointed out the following jaw-dropping facts:

Let me mention a study that you cite in your documentary and your book, An Inconvenient Truth. This is a study from the University of California at San Diego. A scientist there named Dr. Naomi Oreskes published in Science magazine a study of every peer-reviewed journal article on global warming from the previous 10 years, and then in her random sample of 928 articles, she found that no articles disagreed with the scientific consensus on global warming. Then another study on articles on global warming that were published in the previous 14 years in the press, specifically published in The New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times and Wall Street Journal found that more than half of those stories gave equal weight to the scientific consensus and to the view that human beings played no role in global warming.

So just to sum up: the scientific journals, the scientists agreed about global warming, but in these four, you know, major American newspapers, equal weight was given in half the articles to the opposing view that human beings are not causing global warming.

Staggering — yet, in a sad way, unsurprising. This is what it has come to. Scientists publishing in peer-reviewed journals are 100% unanimous, have been for years, but readers of the newspapers of record would have no way of knowing that. No wonder people are confused. Journalists who insist on reporting the world-is-flat "side" of the "argument" have a lot to answer for.

The Daily Show (as usual) perfectly captured the essence of this kind of "journalism" back in August, 2004:

JON STEWART: Here's what puzzles me most, Rob. John Kerry's record in Vietnam is pretty much right there in the official records of the US military, and haven't been disputed for 35 years?

ROB CORDDRY: That's right, Jon, and that's certainly the spin you'll be hearing coming from the Kerry campaign over the next few days.

STEWART: Th-that's not a spin thing, that's a fact. That's established.

CORDDRY: Exactly, Jon, and that established, incontrovertible fact is one side of the story.

STEWART: But that should be — isn't that the end of the story? I mean, you've seen the records, haven't you? What's your opinion?

CORDDRY: I'm sorry, my opinion? No, I don't have 'o-pin-i-ons'. I'm a reporter, Jon, and my job is to spend half the time repeating what one side says, and half the time repeating the other. Little thing called 'objectivity' — might wanna look it up some day.

STEWART: Doesn't objectivity mean objectively weighing the evidence, and calling out what's credible and what isn't?

CORDDRY: Whoa-ho! Well, well, well — sounds like someone wants the media to act as a filter! [high-pitched, effeminate] 'Ooh, this allegation is spurious! Upon investigation this claim lacks any basis in reality! Mmm, mmm, mmm.' Listen buddy: not my job to stand between the people talking to me and the people listening to me.

It just makes you want to scream. Global warming is an issue where many millions of lives hang in the balance. Everlasting shame on all the big-shot reporters who comfort themselves with self-interested rationalizations about "objectivity". Their brand of "objectivity" is going to get a lot of people killed.

Posted by Jonathan at June 5, 2006 07:57 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Comments

Here's another way to report the effects of global warming - call it global climate change instead:

BBC style: 'Hope for coral' as oceans warm @ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5053812.stm

Not once is global warming mentioned in the article.

The correspondent also states "They say this provides a "nugget of hope" for some [coral] reefs threatened by climate change." The only climate change mentioned in the article is rising ocean temperature. Ocean temperature is not climate. Sun light is not climate. I thought the sun was primarily responsible for increased ocean temperatures, not the climate, but I'm not a climate or global warming guru.

Posted by: Jeff at June 6, 2006 09:50 PM