Monday, March 29, 2010

Update: Coral Reef report exaggerates scientific doomsday scenarios

COMMENT:  ABC have provided a lengthy response to our complaint "Coral Reef report exaggerates scientific doomsday scenarios".
Of note is that ABC assessed the complaint under Section 7 that deals with topical and factual content and not under Section 5 that deals with news.
"Your concerns about this article have been investigated by Audience & Consumer Affairs. I should first explain that the article is categorised as topical and factual content and not news and current affairs content. Accordingly, section 5.2 of the ABC's Editorial Policies (, to which you refer, is not applicable to the article. Rather, it is subject to section 7 of the Editorial Policies. The relevant provisions relating to accuracy and alternative perspectives are sections 7.4.1 and 7.4.2, which state as follows:

"7.4.1 The ABC is committed to impartiality: where topical and factual content deals with a matter of contention or public debate, a diversity of principal relevant perspectives should be demonstrated across a network or platform in an appropriate timeframe.
7.4.2 Factual content requires accuracy.
(a) Every reasonable effort must be made to ensure that factual content is accurate and in context."

Hence the claims for balance were not considered. We did score one win though:
On review, Audience & Consumer Affairs acknowledges that the statement "In 2007 the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that an increase in sea level of just 18 to 59 centimetres, likely by 2100, would be enough to wipe the Maldives off the map" did not adhere to the editorial requirement for accuracy as although the IPCC did warn of a sea level increase of 18 to 59 centimetres by 2100, it did not suggest that this would wipe the Maldives off the map. The article has been amended to separate the reference to the IPCC from the reference to the Maldives.

The complete response is posted with the original complaint. Coral Reef report exaggerates scientific doomsday scenarios.

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