Environment

Why Climate Journalism is a Rotting Carcass

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorMay 18, 2010 3:55 PM

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UPDATE:

Do check out the dynamic comment thread, where Andy Revkin makes a confession (and also a tart observation on journalistic peer review); John Fleck calls out a frequent critic of the science press; and Judith Curry corrects some blogospheric "misconceptions" of the media's coverage of climate issues.

Let me make this quick, because according to Joe Romm, your eyeballs are already starting to wander:

As I've noted many times, a lot of people don't actually get far past the headline and subhed.

So, are you ignoramuses still with me? Now a common refrain on Romm's blog is that the mainstream media is just drop-dead dumber than dumb when it comes to reporting and writing on climate change. At least once a week he calls attention to another supposed foul-smelling abomination (in a subhead, of course):

Worst News Article Ever Published on Global Warming?

Many climate advocates and climate scientists couldn't agree more with Romm. One climate blogger, who is starting to sound like Howard Beale, thinks the press is easily manipulated. An environmental ethics philosopher is sympathetic to "Hide the Decline" climate scientists because...well, you read (emphasis added):

More likely to me, and more defensible in many ways, is that Mann and others were fudging the findings in order to "smooth them out" so that they were easier to read, so that their findings would not be misinterpreted by alazy and apathetic press, so that an anomalous line wouldn't distract from the overarching observation, which is that there is persistent change.

What ungrateful bastards we are! At this point, you might be tempted to conclude that journalists are screwing up the biggest story of the century, that the world is on a collision course with climate doomsday because a bunch of hacks are falling down on the job. Or rather, is it because we're not imploring everyone to stick their heads out the window every night and scream: I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore! But wait, the Air Vent's Jeff Id, no doubt speaking for many climate skeptics, says we are doing exactly this. And by god, it's costing us our jobs, too! Here he is, explaining:

Perhaps if reporters stopped turning out a constant stream of alarmist, envirowhacko drivel like this link, they and the NY Times, LA Times, MSNBC, CNN, ABC and every other politically left media outlet wouldn't have such financial difficulty.

Yeah, I guess the internet has nothing to do with that, after all. Whew. What a relief. All we have to do is stop spitting out "alarmist, envirowhacko drivel" and funders will magically reappear! Yay. So there you have it. I now hope you understand, courtesy of Joe Romm and Jeff Id, why climate journalism is a rotting carcass. [UPDATE: Jeff Id is pissed that I'm equating him with Romm. We've had a spirited exchange over at his site.]

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