Tuesday, March 16, 2010

One CSIRO report: two bites of the cherry. When reporting turns to publicity.

Updated 5/4/2010-see outcome below
ABC HEADLINE: "Weather bureau backs climate change verdict" posted News Online 15/3/2010
ABC REPORTED: ABC environment 'reporter' Sarah Clarke posted an online report that provided further coverage of the joint CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology snapshot report "State of the Climate". 
THE COMPLAINT: Extensive coverage of the joint CSIRO/BOM report was provided by Sarah Clarke "CSIRO boss says climate change is real" broadcast Radio National AM, 15/3/2010, and in an associated report on ABC online "CSIRO chief defends climate science" posted 15/3/2010. How does ABC justify further coverage of the joint CSIRO/BOM snapshot? Nothing new appears to have been added in this new report. The headline is somewhat inane: Why wouldn't the BOM back its own report? 
Given the lack of critical questioning demonstrated by the ABC in all these reports they appear to be little more than advertisements providing publicity for the joint CSIRO/BOM report. Can ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs please clarify if ABC news has a contract to provide publicity services to the CSIRO or BOM?
ABC Ed POL 16.2.1 Publicity for individuals, organisations or products should not be given, and the presentation of identifiable or clearly labelled brand products or services should be avoided. For example, contact details or repeated references to a trading name must not be broadcast or published, nor the place where goods or services may be obtained.

Thank you for your email regarding the ABC News online report Weather Bureau backs climate change verdict.
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. 
The views of the CSIRO and the BOM are considered to be principal relevant perspectives on a matter of public interest.  They are not commercial organisations or products, they are Commonwealth government agencies and Audience and Consumer Affairs cannot agree that they have been publicised or promoted in the coverage.  

As you are aware, ABC Radio current affairs reports are frequently written-up and published on ABC News online.  Audience and Consumer Affairs is satisfied that the coverage of this issue across several content platforms is in keeping with section 5 of the ABC Editorial Policies, which are available online at the attached link; http://abc.net.au/corp/pubs/edpols.htm

COMMENT: For more information about investigative journalism please contact Chris Masters.

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