Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Murray Gate 2: More questions for Media Watch

A letter sent to Lin Buckfield, Executive Producer Media Watch, sent Tuesday 20 March 6.30am. 
Nothing back so far, perhaps they are having the day off, exhausted after last's nights 15 minutes.

Dear Lin,
Just seeking to clarify a few things regarding your report on Monday March 19. Your reply for possible posting on the ABC NEWS WATCH Blog. I have cc'd Prof. Richard Kingsford, Dr Jennifer Marohasy, and Dr Peter Ridd and would be interested in their comments as well. 

It seems that in the course of your 10 minutes or so on the subject of reporting science you failed to live up to the standards you were promulgating.

In regard to Dr Jennifer Marohasy's AEF report  Plugging The Murray River’s Mouth: the Interrupted Evolution of a Barrier Estuary Media Watch pointed out the document was reviewed by Professor Peter Ridd, James Cook University. You indicated "Professor Ridd is a director of the AEF and has known Dr Marohasy for years. " You then added the sarcastic remark  "So much for peer-review."

Media Watch then went on to provide examples of a number of experts who agreed and disagreed with Dr Marohasy's report. However for some reason Media Watch did not shine the same intense light of scrutiny on these experts. Unlike Dr Marohasy their relationships with their funding agencies, the nature of the peer review of their reports and their political allegiances were left totally unexplored. It seems you reported only one side of the story.


 I am merely pointing out the different manner Media Watch treated Dr Marohasy compared to the manner it reported the comments of experts Media Watch appear to agree with. 

The role science plays in policy is increasingly important, the media should remember at all times to maintain their independence and impartiality (ie Report the facts, not the spin).

The point of the story is that  "journalists too easily swallow, and pass on without challenge, highly controversial claims put forward in the name of science, by organisations whose agendas aren't obvious from their names. It seems that Media Watch struggles just as much as the rest.


(*Kingsford, R.T., K. F. Walker, R.E. Lester, W.J. Young, P.G. Fairweather, J. Sammut, M.C. Geddes (2011). A Ramsar wetland in crisis – the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 62: 255-265.) 


  1. Keep up the good work :) I always love to read your observations on the ABC. Too bad no one is doing the same for the Silly Moaning Herald and AGE...

  2. Bob of CastlemaineMarch 20, 2012 at 8:23 PM

    In the interests of balance, when will the ABC's Media Watch program extend similar treatment to their favourite warming alarmist scientists concerning their links with dubious environmental activist groups?

    For instance rather than just fawning regurgitation of the latest alarmist press releases of the chosen ones, when can we expect to see Jonathan Holmes do a forensic exposé concerning the links between Prof. David Karoly, Prof. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Prof. Lesley Hughes, Dr. Roger Jones and Dr. Barrie Pittock and green activist group WWF?…..

    I suggest we don't hold our breath on this one.

  3. Time to re-introduce the subscription model for funding.

  4. Just close them down, the Internet provides more and better for free.


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