Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Read the whole thing: A year after it exploded in their face, clueless journalists still don't recognize that they overlooked the greatest scientific hoax in history

The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media » A Yale Forum Two-Part Special Feature:Scientists and Journalists on ‘Lessons Learned’ (Pt. 2)
Richard Harris, NPR
We’re not really a community, but individually we strive to get to the bottom of the story — to get at the facts and present them to the public. We’ve learned that we have less and less influence on public discourse relating to climate change. The “climategate” story was not a product of journalism, but activism. The storyline was crafted by people with a desired objective; it was not an effort to weigh facts and reach a dispassionate conclusion. Many journalists made a serious effort to examine the facts and report what we found, but our voices were joined by many others who were not attempting to be dispassionate.
Curtis Brainard, Columbia Journalism Review
...The only real high point in climate journalism in the last year was the coverage of the summer’s extreme weather, including heat waves in the U.S., wildfires in Russia, and floods in Pakistan. The press actually produced quite a bit of nuanced coverage, which explained that while it’s impossible to peg any single weather event to climate change, many scientists felt that summer’s extremes would not have been possible without humanity’s influence on the climate system.
Seth Borenstein, Associated Press
But context is key here. At the AP, we spent a week and five reporters pouring over one-million words to read them in context and found no grand conspiracy, but lots of cranky scientists (and ones who really could use a good editor themselves). On the flip side, we in the media have a tendency to read summaries and skim in a speedy manner through the main text. Some of the handful of errors in the IPCC reports, especially the Himalayan ones, on the face of them should have been noticed by reviewers and eagle-eyed science writers. In addition, reporters should have delved into the millions of details more and asked more questions. I fear the non-science journalists don’t look as much in the science details, don’t have the time or leadership that we have at AP, and thus didn’t learn the lessons that science journalists have.
Eric Pooley, Bloomberg Businessweek
Climate journalists have spent too much time preaching to the choir while there’s a riot going on outside the church.
We can try — and of course many of us have been trying. I saw some of my colleagues get a wake-up call last December in the big COP 15 media center in Copenhagen. I was talking with some climate journalists after Senator James Inhofe, the famously skeptical Oklahoman, came through the room. Some journalists began joking about Inhofe, so-called “climategate,” and the absurdity of those who claimed that the hacked e-mails were proof that climate scientists had cooked their data. The journalists were right — those claims were absurd — but they were also missing the point. Inhofe had just predicted that a U.S. climate bill was “not going to happen,” and he was right. While climate journalists in Copenhagen were studying the fine points of the latest REDD proposal, “climategate” was going viral on the internet and in the mainstream media. Soon CNN was hosting a debate on the validity of climate science, and I was pulling out my calendar to remind myself what year it was. Surely we couldn’t still be arguing the basic science in 2009 and 2010.
Andrew Revkin, “DotEarth“
...A batch of (mainly British) reporters and outlets did epic reportage on “climategate” that appeared to be stimulated in part out of a sense of betrayal, perhaps. Some of the overheated coverage got rolled back with corrections and apologies. American media covered the incident with far less intensity, perhaps better reflecting its marginal significance. Science blogs of all stripes dove deepest, but the incident, in the end, was notable mainly for reminding the public that science is — shocking news to some — an ugly process at times, particularly when its findings relate to very consequential issues facing society.
Curtis Brainard, Columbia Journalism Review
...Reporters need to actively ferret out these problems on a weekly basis rather than waiting until climate skeptics and blogs discover them and blow their significance out of proportion. If journalists wrote more stories about where uncertainty exists in the science, and if they were more aggressive about challenging scientists on transparency issues, we wouldn’t have these pseudo-scandals erupt every time a climate scientist missteps.

The corollary to this is that, at the same time, reporters must defend those scientists that need defending because many, such as Ben Santer, have had to endure unreasonable challenges to their credibility in addition to overt threats of violence.


Stan said...

The problem with climate journalists --
"You can't fix stupid."

Jim Acker said...

Scientific "hoax"? Get real.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, "You can't fix stupid."

The good news is that you can "fix" the ex-Journalism school clowns.

Keep 'em from breeding new specimens, anyway. Gotta look to some extraordinary measures to keep the gene pool from going down the tubes.

Russell C. said...

There's one whole other side of AGW besides ClimateGate that the journalists overlooked: the voracity of the accusation of corruption made against skeptic scientists by one of their own - a guy who they all say is a "Pulitzer winner".

Please see: "The '96-to-present smear of skeptic scientists"

Seems rather unlikely you'll see any of that being reported by any of the clueless journalists...

MikeSnow said...

Hope the new congress will defund NPR.
Thelameduck would not do it but next year is coming.

Anonymous said...

Quote: "Surely we couldn’t still be arguing the basic science in 2009 and 2010"

No, surely not. Do we really still allow debate, argument and free-thinking in science?

Guards! Guards! This scientist is asking questions - take him away!

Anonymous said...

Harris: "The “climategate” story..."

EXCEPT in the US, where it wasn't an actual 'story' so much as the 800 pound gorilla nobody (among the 'elites' and anointed chattering classes, anyway) would talk about.

Only the internet SHOWED people that the many claims skeptics had made about the CAGW industry were actually true.

Too bad these dinosaur's cannot learn. But then, again, a local J-school with its Andrew Revkin worshiping "science journalism" prof may be folded into other schools at CU-Boulder....can you say 'outsourced'? Sure ya can!

Anonymous said...

Brainard could use a brain (but that's J-school for ya):"reporters must defend those scientists that need defending because many, such as Ben Santer, have had to endure unreasonable challenges to their credibility in addition to overt threats of violence."

It was Santer who threatened to beat up dissenting climatologist Pat Michaels - not the other way around. As per the emails he ought to have read.

Craig Goodrich said...

"The basic science" is in fact still being investigated. The only thing that is totally, completely settled is that the CO2-driven catastrophic warming hypothesis is totally disconfirmed by all actual observations, thus demonstrating that it is every bit as silly and implausible as many of us said it was twenty years ago.

Disband the IPCC, defund the research (except for the buoys and satellites), open up the data, close down CRU and GISS, and for God's sake decommission and scrap all the damned wind turbines.

And make 2 years of basic science a requirement in the journalism schools.