Friday, March 2, 2012

SA hotter in 1960-ABC wrong again-Part 4

Continuing correspondence with the ABC on their claim made in a story headlined "Extreme heat in southern Australiathat "South Australia is sweltering with the hottest start to the year in more than a century."  See earlier posts HERE, HERE and HERE.

From: Marc Hendrickx
Sent: Friday, 2 March 2012
To: Alan Sunderland
Subject: you get a mention in today's cut and paste
Hi Alan,
One for the scrap book! (you might need a subscription to access online)

From: Alan Sunderland
To: Marc Hendrickx
Date: Fri, Mar 2, 2012
Subject: RE: you get a mention in today's cut and paste

As I mentioned when you sent your last three emails, we do take accuracy seriously, which is why we are following up your original complaint. What you do on your own website, or what you provide to other media organisations, is irrelevant to that process. I am sure you would like us to take the time to sort out the facts properly.
This has been made more difficult by the fact that the reporter who worked on the intro has been in the Middle East for some months, on the border of Lebanon trying to get into Syria. He’s had a few things on his mind.
The data you have provided is fascinating. As you know, it seems to indicate that of the 14 sources of average temperatures you included, seven were higher in 1960 and seven were higher in 2012. You have chosen geographic size as a basis for concluding 1960 has the edge. I would guess, given the location of those fourteen places, it might be possible to argue that 2012 has the edge in terms of population – the number of human beings actually affected by those temperatures. However, I’m just not sure. I haven’t had the time or the opportunity to chase that down exhaustively. There is quite a lot going on in the media at the moment, and I do try to prioritise and keep a sense of perspective.
But that’s kind of irrelevant, really. What matters is what information we based the sentence in the intro on at the time, and whether that information was sound and well-sourced. If it wasn’t, then we will need to add an Editor’s Note clarifying what the data reasonably tells us. Which gets us back to the delay of a couple of weeks while we find an opportunity to check back with the origin of the original statement –whether it was based on advice from the BOM or elsewhere.
If you genuinely want to hear back from me on what was a perfectly legitimate complaint, then rest assured that I will continue to treat the matter in that spirit. However, if you just want to use the issue to run some kind of media campaign on your own, then I guess my engagement and my reply is not going to make much of a difference. Nothing I can do about that….
Alan Sunderland

from: Marc Hendrickx
to: Alan Sunderland
date: Fri, Mar 2, 2012 at 10:51 AM
subject: Re: you get a mention in today's cut and paste

Dear Alan,
I do genuinely want to hear back from you and I am not running some sort of "media campaign", I am merely interested in ABC living up to its charter and code of practice. I appreciate that constructive criticism is sometimes difficult to bear.

I am surprised at how much tax payers money you appear to be spending on an issue ABC NEWS do not actually have the expertise to answer. Perhaps you can ask the BOM which was hotter. Perhaps in the future your reporters might check the facts first, before making unsubstantiated sensationalist statements such as the one in question.

In regard to the complaint, if an editorial comment was added and the report were amended to read "Some parts of South Australia are sweltering with the hottest start to the year in more than a century." you would have a defensible statement based on the information you have at hand.

Again, I look forward to hearing back from you once you have sorted it out, but on face value, for a story about a hot day in Adelaide, it doesn't seem that complicated. As you say "keep a sense of perspective".

Best Wishes
Marc Hendrickx

1 comment:

  1. Good on you,Marc. It is pure hyperbole,and only makes trivial sense if one believes central Adelaide is South Australia...a few do I'm sure.

    Now you might turn your attention to The Courier-Mail,who have a little news box on their front page claiming that 'NSW floodwaters cover area size of France'. The NZ Herald also.

    Ah,it's contagious: The Herald-Sun leads an article with the claim "Residents of four towns have been evacuated as floodwaters covering an area the size of France sweep across NSW." !

    That's 550,000km2 of water! And only four towns affected!


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