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When Newspapers Con the Public

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMarch 20, 2013 8:37 PM


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British newspaper journalism is an odd creature. The Daily Mail, as I discussed here, is a freakish beast that continues to willfully (how else to explain it?) mangle climate science and misrepresent climate scientists. Myles Allen is the latest victim of David Rose's crazy-ass reporting on climate change. And yet what to make of Allen's rationale for Rose's latest hatchet job:

I am perfectly prepared to believe David sent in an accurate article that was then hacked to pieces in the newsroom.

I would like to know if Allen wrote that with his tongue firmly planted in cheek, or whether he's just deluding himself? For by now any scientist who talks to David Rose surely knows that what Rose puts in his stories bear little resemblance to what x or y climate scientist said to him over a pint of beer or over the phone. That's the one fact you can bank on in any David Rose story on climate change. Now let's turn to the Guardian, and this video on genetically modified crops it recently posted on its website. The piece is as slanted and error-ridden as they come, made all the more obvious for its reliance on a notoriously discredited study by a French researcher with a weird history who has long been an anti-GMO opponent. But what I found most odd about the video is that I couldn't tell who reported and produced it. But there it was on the Guardian website, looking and sounding very much like a work of journalism (despite the factually incorrect content). Because I'm informed about this particular subject, it sounded like a slick piece of advocacy masquerading as journalism. Lo and behold, as Robert Wilson tells us on his Carbon Counter blog (see bottom of this post):

It turns out that the source of the above video is in fact Friends of the Earth. With seemingly no regard for journalistic integrity, the Guardian republished a Friends of the Earth anti-GM video with zero attribution. The original video is GM_Edit_v2_CLEAN here.

So much for journalistic transparency, which is a cornerstone of the profession. The majority of news consumers who have chanced on this Guardian video or the Daily Mail's latest distorted climate change coverage by David Rose probably have no idea they have been misled. The two British newspapers are very different in terms of content, style, and quality (I'm personally a fan of the Guardian) but both have one thing in common in each of these cases: They have conned the public. UPDATE: The Guardian's Leo Hickman informs me that the producers of the video have now been identified. At the bottom of the page, where it used to say ITN productions, it now reads "Stop the Crop." I'm sure that makes all the difference.


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