Reply To: Global warming a tough issue for the media


Andrew Revkin, who has reported on environment including global warming for New York Times, has reproduced a chapter he's done on media and global warming. Thoughtful; includes:

global warming remains the antithesis of what is traditionally defined as news. Its intricacies, which often involve overlapping disciplines, confuse scientists, citizens, and reporters—even though its effects will be widespread, both in geography and across time. Journalism craves the concrete, the known, the here and now and is repelled by conditionality, distance, and the future.

The norm of journalistic balance has been exploited by opponents of emissions curbs. Starting in the late 1990s, big companies whose profits were tied to fossil fuels recognized they could use this journalistic practice to amplify the inherent uncertainties in climate projections and thus potentially delay cuts in emissions from burning those fuels.

Journalists dealing with global warming and similar issues would do well to focus on the points of deep consensus, generate stories containing voices that illuminate instead of confuse, convey the complex without putting readers (or editors) to sleep, and cast science in its role as a signpost pointing toward possible futures, not as a font of crystalline answers.

The only way to accomplish this is for reporters to become more familiar with scientists and the ways of science.

On Balance, Hype, Climate and the Media