Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pacific Islands growing not sinking-wrong journal quoted

Update-see outcome below
ABC HEADLINE: "Pacific islands growing, not sinking" news online 3/6/2010
ABC REPORTED: ABC somewhat surprisingly covered recent research that indicates that many low-lying Pacific islands are growing, not sinking, as claimed by the IPCC. In its report the ABC suggests the findings were published in New Scientist magazine "The findings, published in the magazine New Scientist" .
 THE COMPLAINT:  New Scientist is not a peer reviewed journal, like the ABC it merely reports the news.
The research findings were in fact published in the journal Global and Planetary Change. The source of the New Scientist report is a research paper by Andrew Webb and Paul Kench titled "The dynamic response of reef islands to sea level rise: evidence from multi-decadal analysis of island change in the central pacific". The DOI is
Please amend the report to provide the correct publication.
OUTCOME: Received 27 July, 2010
Thank you for your email of 3 June concerning the ABC News Online article “Pacific islands growing, not sinking” published that day. Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding.
In keeping with ABC complaint handling procedures, your concerns have been considered by Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit separate to and independent from ABC program areas. In light of your concerns, we have assessed the sentence of the article to which you refer against the ABC’s editorial requirement for accuracy in news and current affairs content, as outlined in section 5.2.2(c) of the ABC’s Editorial Policies: In the interests of procedural fairness, we have also sought and considered material from ABC News.
The story reported that new research had identified that many low-lying Pacific islands are growing, not sinking, challenging the view that Pacific islands are sinking due to rising sea levels associated with climate change. As you point out, the story referred to the findings as having been published in the magazine New Scientist. New Scientist is a weekly science magazine and website providing coverage of recent developments in science and technology, and it published a story about the research and its findings:
On review, Audience and Consumer Affairs do not agree the article’s reference to the findings having been published in New Scientist magazine was inaccurate. As noted above, details of the research and its findings were published in New Scientist. While we appreciate that the full research paper was published in the peer-reviewed journal to which you refer, and this may be of interest to some readers, we are satisfied that reference to the findings being published in New Scientist magazine was accurate and in keeping with section 5.2.2(c) of the ABC’s Editorial Policies.
Notwithstanding this, please be assured that your comments have been noted and conveyed to ABC News management. Thank you again for taking the time to write, and for your interest in the ABC. For your reference, a copy of the ABC Code of Practice is available at:

Yours sincerely
 Audience & Consumer Affairs

COMMENT: With recent staff increases it should be possible for ABC journalists to take the time (we took 2 minutes) to find the original research.
It appears New Scientist standards are also lapsing. The link to the paper provided in their article is not correct and returns a related paper by Colin Woodroffe published in Global and Planetary change in 2007. We have informed New Scientist of the need for a correction. My good help is certainly hard to find these days!

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