Here's the response from ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs (received 28/5/2010):
Thank you for your email regarding the ABC Science story 'Climate change impact on malaria questioned'.
Your concerns about this story have been investigated by Audience & Consumer Affairs. The story has been assessed against the applicable editorial standard, section 5.2.2(e) of the ABC's Editorial Policies (http://abc.net.au/corp/pubs/edpols.htm), which states as follows:
"Be balanced. Balance will be sought but may not always be achieved within a single program or publication; it will be achieved as soon as reasonably practicable and in an appropriate manner. It is not essential to give all sides equal time. As far as possible, present principal relevant views on matters of importance."
The story reported on Professor Tony McMichael's criticisms of the recent Nature study 'Climate change and the global malaria recession'. In addition to the providing the views of Professor McMichael, the story summarised the study's findings and included the views of two of its authors, Dr Pete Gething and Dr Simon Hay.
While your references to the number of words in the story are noted, it is important to recognise that the editorial standard for balance does not require that an equal number of words be devoted to the views of each side in written stories. Instead, if possible, journalists are required to present the principal relevant views on matters of importance. In this case, the story presented the views of the authors of the study as well as the different views of a prominent Australian expert.
On review, Audience & Consumer Affairs is satisfied that the story adhered to section 5.2.2(e) of the Editorial Policies. Nonetheless, please be assured that your comments have been noted and conveyed to relevant staff in ABC Innovation.
I note your reference to a 2009 post on the blog 'Prometheus'. Audience & Consumer Affairs does not believe that criticism of Professor McMichael in a blog should preclude ABC journalists from reporting his expert views.
I also note your query regarding balance in a several recent ABC Science, ABC Environment and ABC News articles. Should have specific concerns about the adherence of one or more of these articles with the ABC's editorial standards, please outline them in further detail and we will be happy to consider them.
Thank you for taking the time to write.
ABC Audience & Consumer Affairs