Friday, February 12, 2010

More errors in reporting Penn State Climate Gate inquiry

Updated 18/3/2010-see outcome
ABC HEADLINE:ABC NEWS Online 12/2/2010  Penn University's climategate findings

ABC REPORTED: ABC provides a breakdown of what the Mann inquiry found, but gets a few things wrong in the process.

THE COMPLAINT: There are no links to source documents. Rather than paraphrase the results leaving open room for mistakes and interpretation and omission the ABC should have simply provided a link to the source document or provided a copy of the entire report.
Errors include:
1. "The inquiry focused upon four questions": In fact the inquiry focused on four allegations.
2. "The inquiry analysed emails sent to or from Dr Mann, or those which he was mentioned in, to look for evidence of wrongdoing." In fact the inquiry only considered emails leaked from CRU University of East Anglia; or emails by Mann related to the fourth IPCC assessment report.

OUTCOME:Thank you for your email regarding the ABC News Online story Penn University’s ‘climategate’ findings.

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 it was accurate for the report to refer to the inquiry focusing on four questions.  The allegations were put to Dr Mann in the form of questions.

ABC News acknowledges that the inquiry did not consider every email Dr Mann had written or received, only those leaked from the University of East Anglia and those specifically related to the fourth IPCC assessment report.  But given the report’s headline clearly heralds the fact that the inquiry is about “climategate”, Audience and Consumer Affairs is satisfied that sufficient context was provided for the audience to conclude that the emails related to that particular matter. 

Audience and Consumer Affairs believe the report is in keeping with section 5.2.2(c) of the ABC Editorial Policies.  The ABC Editorial Policies are available online at the attached link;

ABC News has added a link to the report that references the source documents. Your comments have been brought to the attention of the News Online Editor.

COMMENT: Given ABC had already reported on the findings of the Penn State inquiry a simple link in that article to the source documentation would have sufficed.

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