Thursday, December 23, 2010

Steig et al refuted-ABC miss the scoop

ABC were quick to cover a story that found warming in Antarctica extended beyond the Antarctic Peninsula early last year. The story "Scientists find evidence Antarctica is warming" included the claim:
"On average the entire continent is warming and especially it is warming in winter and spring. Finally, west Antarctica, just like the Antarctic peninsula, is warming in all seasons."

The West Antarctic claims of Steig et al have now been refuted by an article accepted by Journal of Climate. The paper: Improved methods for PCA-based reconstructions: case study using the Steig et al. 2009 Antarctic temperature reconstruction by Ryan O'Donnell, Nicholas Lewis, Steve McIntyre, Jeff Condon is in press as an early online release - available here.  

We asked ABC why they hadn't corrected their earlier reports, here's their reply:
Received 23 December:
Thank you for your email of December 3 concerning the story “Scientists find evidence Antarctica is warming”
Your correspondence was referred to Audience and Consumer Affairs for consideration and response. The unit is separate and independent from ABC program areas and is responsible for investigating complaints alleging a broadcast or publication was in contravention of the ABC's editorial standards.

ABC News advises that when the paper is published, its newsworthiness and credibility will be assessed and a decision will be made as to whether it warrants a new story, a change in the existing story or no action.
In our view that is the appropriate course to take.

Thank you for taking the time to write; your feedback is appreciated. For your reference, a copy of the ABC Code of Practice is available at:
Yours sincerely
Audience and Consumer Affairs

The paper is available at the Journal of Climate! Why are we waiting? Perhaps ABC News misunderstands what "in press" means in the peer reviewed literature? Here's how the Journal of Climate describe their early online releases:
This is a preliminary PDF of the author-produced manuscript that has been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication. Since it is being posted so soon after acceptance, it has not yet been copyedited, formatted, or processed by AMS Publications. This preliminary version of the manuscript may be downloaded, distributed, and cited, but please be aware that there will be visual differences and possibly some content differences between this version and the final published version.

What sort of news organisation deliberately avoids a scoop?

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