Friday, March 5, 2010

Methane report under inflated - a lesson in science reporting from the NYT

Update 5/4/2010: ABC response posted below
ABC HEADLINE: "Scientists discover huge seabed methane leak", ABC News Online 5 March 2010.

ABC REPORTED: An uncredited article that reports:
Scientists have discovered the Arctic ocean seabed is leaking huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere.
The research published in the journal Science shows the permafrost under the East Siberian Arctic shelf, which was thought to be a barrier sealing methane, is perforated.
Compare the ABC's report with this one by the New York Times Study Says Undersea Release of Methane Is Under Way

Which news agency do you think fairly represents the findings: the ABC or NYT?

For comparison try this article from Science News

THE COMPLAINT: The ABC claims to be Australia's most trusted, independent source of news. Based on a comparison of these two reports apparently it cannot claim to provide the highest quality news service. Rather than the brief sketch provided which misrepresents the findings of the paper, can the ABC amend the article to provide a better representation if its contents, or perhaps provide the NYT article instead. Perhaps the reporter can start by reading the original paper. It can be found here:

OUTCOMEThank you for your email regarding the ABC News online report Scientists discover huge seabed methane leak.

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 report, 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 report is accurate and in keeping with section 5 of the ABC Editorial Policies, which are available online at the attached link;  The comments of a localexpert were included to provide context for the ABC’s audience.

It is important to note that Audience and Consumer Affairs does not review news coverage of other organisations.  It reviews ABC content only, as explained above. Your interest in the NYT’s coverage of this issue is noted.

COMMENT: Little difference between getting poor quality news and no news at all. Perhaps we don't need the ABC after all? I found the better report for free on the Internet.

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