Monday, February 22, 2010

ABC claims CLIMATEGATE emails were leaked

Updated 18/3/2010-reply received from ABC-see below-see also UPDATE

ABC HEADLINE: "Climate Science alive and well, say experts" posted on ABC online February 21, 2010

ABC REPORTED: ABC reported (no reporter credit provided) on comments by a number of scientists on the current state of climate science following the identification of errors in key IPCC reports and revelations contained in emails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. The report mentioned:

"Climate change sceptics seized on a leak of thousands of emails and other documents from researchers at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Britain, which appeared to show scientists saying global warming was not as serious as previously thought."

THE COMPLAINT: ABC NEWS WATCH understands the investigation into the release of emails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia is still in progress (see HERE for example) and it is not yet possible to confirm that the emails were "leaked". If ABC have inside information that suggests the emails were indeed "leaked" and not hacked perhaps they should pass it on to the relevant authorities.

OUTCOME: Reply received 18/3/2010

Thank you for your email regarding the ABC News online report Climate science alive and well, say experts.

Your concerns have been investigated by Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit which is separate to and independent of program making areas within the ABC.  We have reviewed the broadcast, assessed it against the ABC’s editorial standards and sought and considered material provided by ABC News. 

Audience and Consumer Affairs is satisfied that the use of the word “leaked” to describe the dissemination of the emails is accurate and in keeping with section 5.2.2(c) of the ABC Editorial Policies.  Whether or not the police investigation concludes that the email system was hacked, it is a fact that the emails were leaked without the authors’ knowledge or consent.

Your comments have been noted.

COMMENT: Use of the adjective "alleged" in cases where the facts are unknown can help reduce misleading statements. 
ABC Editorial Policy 5.2.2: Staff must also observe the following principles:
(a) The ABC takes no editorial stand in its programming.
(b) Avoid conflicts of interest.
(c) Be accurate.
(i) Every reasonable effort, in the circumstances, must be made to
ensure that the factual content of news and current affairs is accurate
and in context.
(ii) The ABC will not hesitate to admit and correct a significant error when
it is established that one has been made. When a correction is
necessary, it will be made in an appropriate manner as soon as
reasonably practicable.

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