Saturday, February 6, 2010

Un-skeptical reporting on climate change from Auntie-update

Based on this story ARCTIC MELT TO COST TRILLIONS: REPORT ABC appear to be continuing their pattern of un-skeptical, uncritical reporting on climate change. This article was sourced directly from Reuters (see here), with very little change. There also appears to be have been little change from the source press release available here from the PEW Environment Group. It is difficult to see if any critical investigation or questioning went into these claims.
We deserve more from ABC news than re-issuing press releases from any organisation.

The press release, the full 27 page report and its 12 page summary available available from Pew Environment Group for your scrutiny here; it seems it got very little from Auntie.

Odd that the PEW summary report is nearly as long as the full report...something smells funny, but not to Auntie. Here are a few questions for the dear old girl.

1. Why does this report, by an obviously biased organisation, constitute news?
2. Did the ABC attempt to investigate the veracity of the report? If so, how?
3. It seems the report is based mainly on the PEW Environment Group's Press Release. Does the ABC now just publish press releases from organisations without additional investigation? Is this a sign that the ABC's editorial staff are under pressure following the announcement that ABC will host a 24 hour news service?
4. Why wasn't the release of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change report covered in the same manner? ( I can find no mention of the NIPCC in ABC NEWS.
5.Is the apparent differential treatment provided by the ABC to organisations promoting climate disaster a sign of biased news coverage on the part of the ABC?
6. If so, how does the ABC propose to re-dress this in-balance?

These questions have been put to ABC audience and consumer affairs. An update will appear when a response is received.

Update 8/2/2010 From ABC Editorial Policy
5.6 Use of secondary sources
5.6.1 Where secondary sources such as media releases or other media reports are used to either generate ideas or gather information, the information drawn from those sources must be cross-checked and verified before use.

ABC reply received 2 March 2010

Thank you for your email regarding the ABC News online report Arctic melt to cost trillions: report.

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. 

The ABC Editorial Policies are available at the attached link;

Section 5.2.2(d) of the ABC Editorial Policies states that editorial judgements are based on news values.  What is or is not considered newsworthy is a decision made by ABC News editorial managers, based on their considerable editorial experience.  Audience and Consumer Affairs is satisfied that the findings of the research are newsworthy and notes the findings received broad coverage across a range of news media. 

This news story was written by the Reuters news agency, which attributed the claims in the report and featured the comments of one of the co-authors.  The ABC does not possesses the skills to determine the scientific veracity of the claims made in the study.  Audience and Consumer Affairs is satisfied that the PEW organisation is credible, that the research was reviewed by a range of economists and scientists and that the decision to report on the research was based on news values. 

Audience and Consumer Affairs acknowledges the noteworthy findings of the research appear in both the press release and the news story.  Audience and Consumer Affairs cannot agree that the story is a direct lift from that press release.  Audience and Consumer Affairs believe the story accurately conveys of the findings of the research and is in keeping with section 5.2.2(c) of the ABC Editorial Policies.

I am advised by ABC News management that ABC News editorial staff are not under any increased pressure following the announcement that the ABC will host a 24 hour news service.

I am advised by ABC News management that it did not cover the release of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change’s report, based on news values.  As advised above, what is or is not considered newsworthy is a decision made by ABC News editorial managers, based on their considerable editorial experience. 
ABC News advise that it is unaware of any reference to a recent report published by NIPCC.
ABC NEWS WATCH rasied a number of question regarding what pases for news on the ABC in this post in early February  an article  
ABC News online provides comprehensive coverage of climate related issues, from a broad range of perspectives over time.  Audience and Consumer Affairs does not believe that reports relating to “climate catastrophe” are unduly favoured and notes the following recent reports critical of certain pro-climate change perspectives:

Climate body ‘embarrassed’ over forest claim:
UN admits Himalaya glacier data dodgy:
Scientist denies UN glacier melt date:
UN climate claims ‘based on student essay’:

Please be assured that your comments have been brought to the attention of ABC news management.

Yours sincerely
Audience and Consumer Affairs

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