Reply To: Global warming a tough issue for the media


I agree w comments here – including, importantly, scientists should look for metaphors that convey much: soundbites. Might look to the Exxon-Mobil etc crowd for how to do soundbites and so forth – albeit have to be honest, which tougher given how dirty the denialist camp can fight (not letting facts get in the way of a good story or two).

Stanford scientist and climate-specialist Stephen Schneider has called out media organizations for the quality of reporting on climate change and other scientific issues.

"Business managers of media organizations,” he said, “you are screwing up your responsibility by firing science and environment reporters who are frankly the only ones competent to do this."

Schneider points to CNN, which in December fired all of its science and technology reporters. "Why didn’t they fire their economics team or their sports team?" asks Schneider. "Why don’t they send their general assignment reporters out to cover the Superbowl?"

Schneider’s frustration doesn’t stop at the media. He believes scientists are not living up to their responsibility to actively participate in scientific discussions with the mainstream media.

"I have arguments with some of my scientific colleagues, who think it is irresponsible to go out and talk when you can only get 5 seconds on the evening news, a couple of quotes in the New York Times, or five minutes in front of Congress," Schneider said. "Well, you know what guys, that’s just how it is. And if you think that you have a higher calling and you’re not going to play the game because they don’t give you the time to tell the whole story, then all it means is that you’ve passed the buck to others who know the topic less well."

With years of media appearances and interviews to back him up, Schneider advices "that scientists find metaphors that convey both urgency and uncertainty, so that you can get people’s attention while at the same time not overstating the case. Then you have websites and backup articles and books where you can give the full story, but you have to have your sound bite and your op-ed piece."

Renowned climatologist says mass media ‘screwing up’ global warming reporting