Tuesday, April 26, 2011

ABC find the Real Julia

ABC have found the real Julia! Photo evidence to boot.
Either that or they are:
A). Comparing the Australian PM with a Vietnamese Peasant
B). Comparing the Japanese people with a Vietnamese Peasant
C). Too lazy to take a few moments to select the appropriate image from ABC's extensive image library
D). All of the above.
We've asked ABC to confirm which one they wanted to imply when they juxtaposed the headline with our favourite ABC environment image. We also sent a copy to the PM's department.
 ABC Environment too lazy to find the right picture? Or perhaps they just don't give a shit.
We asked the PM's department the following question:
Can the PM's department please enquire whether the ABC were seeking to traduce the position of PM, or the Japanese people?

Editorialising-atomic power too great a risk?

This line from a story about the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster struck us as somewhat un-necessary and we have asked ABC to explain its presence, as it seems to contravene section 4 of ABC's new editorial policies..

"Japan has placed the disaster on the maximum seven on an international scale of atomic crises, the same level as Chernobyl, and the troubles at Fukushima have prompted many questions about whether atomic power is too great a risk." 

There have also been many questioning the irrational fear mongering, why do they not get a mention?

Monday, April 25, 2011

ABC News-All time low for Easter Productivity

ABC News staff numbers have steadily increased from 766 in 2003 to 942 in 2010. In any other sphere of business this would normally be associated with an increase in output. However, based on the number of stories posted to its News Archive,  ABC News continues to defy the normal laws of economics.
The chart below looks at the number of news stories in ABC's News Archive for Easter Sunday from 2003 to 2011, finding a dramatic slide in output. With 766 staff in 2003 ABC produced more than double the number of news items compared to 2011 (182, compared to 72)! Even with the addition of $24 million pumped into its continuous news centre since 2006, including over $11 million in this year alone ABC still can't match its 2003 productivity. In 2003 it took 4.2 ABC News staff to write one Easter Sunday story.  In 2011 it takes over 13, (based on projected staffing for this year of 960).
That's not the worst of it. When you consider the source, ABC News only contributed 35 stories this year, 2 of these jointly produced with the assistance of Reuters and AAP (see chart below). That's less than half.
ABC doing much much less, with much much more.

The Raw numbers;
staff per story
2011 staff numbers projected

staff per story
2011 staff numbers projected

Saturday, April 23, 2011

From the Vault - Those Easter Blues

Coal carrier

7pm TV News
On April 12, (2010) in a story about the coal carrier that ran aground in Queensland waters, the ABC reported that the incident occurred on Easter Saturday. In fact, the event was on Holy Saturday, the day after Good Friday and it is the last day of Holy Week.


Radio National – Saturday Extra 6 May 2006
The complaint
A listener complained that the program’s host incorrectly stated that the 15 April 2006 was “Easter Saturday”. The listener pointed out that the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is called “Easter Eve”.
The ABC agreed that this was incorrect.


"From the Vault" - digging up past corrections and clarifications from the ABC archives.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

When propaganda equals news.

Is it just me or does this report lack balance and lack inquiry? Carbon tax 'a scapegoat' for power bill rises
Odd that ABC ran the story even before the Climate Institute issued a press release (nothing at the Climate Institute website as of 9.00am today). Some questions:
Does ABC have an "embedded reporter" at the Climate Institute?
Can ABC spot the difference between propaganda and news?

Update: 14:30. Just noticed the Climate Institute have caught up with the ABC  their marketing arm. Must be nice to have Auntie in your back pocket.

H/T to The Loaded Dog

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

ABC NEWS: much less for much more

Margaret Simons has used an FOI request to obtain information about the true cost of ABC's 24 hour continuous news service. It appears Margaret has had some success.  However, ABC have used FOI exceptions to refuse significant parts of the request.
According to the figures provided, the total cost of the Continuous News Centre, from its launch in 2006 until the end of last month,  is $25.37 million dollars. 2011 figures are only until the end of March 2011.
Combined with the results of our productivity survey, the figures paint an alarming picture of ABC's failure to efficiently use public funds to provide a news service to its audience.
In the chart below the expenditure is just for ABC's continuous news centre from information obtained by Margaret Simons, and does not include the total cost of ABC's News service. Staff numbers are total News Staff from ABC annual reports, and the number of stories is for the months of June, from ABC's online news archive. 
The bottom line is that ABC continues to do much less with much much much more. At a time when the government is weighing up reduced funding for medical research in this years budget, the ABC continues to leech off the tax payer. If the government needs to trim the fat, I know one big fat Auntie who is in dire need of lipsuction. Based on the chart below a return to her fitter 2003 weight  might actually improve her output.  In regard to the 24 hour continuous news service; $25.37 million buys a lot of cancer research.

Update: Fishing for the truth

ABC HEADLINE: "Toxic caesium found in fish off Japan"
ABC REPORTED: The first sentence read: Traces of radioactive caesium have been found for the first time in fish off Japan's east coast.

It was not the first time and ABC have now corrected the story. ABC's response is posted HERE

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Missing Voices: Demetris Koutsoyiannis

Tony Jones, presenter of the ABC's Lateline and Q and A current affairs programs, claims to have interviewed all the main scientists sceptical of the IPCC consensus. It appears he has not spoken with Demetris Koutsoyiannis, Professor in Hydrology and Analysis of Hydrosystems, and Head of the Department of Water Resources and Environmental Engineering of the National Technical University of Athens. Winner of the prestigious Henry Darcy Medal for 2009. For some reason ABC News, ABC Online and the Science Show have steadfastly refused to cover the research of Professor Koutsoyiannis. Another clear example of the devastating influence that ABC's Groupthink culture is having on the ABC's credibility.
Can we please see ABC interview Professor Koutsoyiannis, whose output is prolific and includes the following peer reviewed papers:

D. KOUTSOYIANNIS, A. EFSTRATIADIS, N. MAMASSIS & A. CHRISTOFIDES “On the credibility of climate predictions” Hydrological Sciences–Journal–des Sciences Hydrologiques, 53 (2008).

Abstract “Geographically distributed predictions of future climate, obtained through climate models, are widely used in hydrology and many other disciplines, typically without assessing their reliability. Here we compare the output of various models to temperature and precipitation observations from eight stations with long (over 100 years) records from around the globe. The results show that models perform poorly, even at a climatic (30-year) scale. Thus local model projections cannot be credible, whereas a common argument that models can perform better at larger spatial scales is unsupported.”

“In essence, they found that climate models have no predictive value.”
A comparison of local and aggregated climate model outputs with observed data
G. G. Anagnostopoulos; D. Koutsoyiannis; A. Christofides; A. Efstratiadis; N. Mamassis 
result Hydrological Sciences Journal, 2150-3435, Volume 55, Issue 7, 2010, Pages 1094 – 1110

We compare the output of various climate models to temperature and precipitation observations at 55 points around the globe. We also spatially aggregate model output and observations over the contiguous USA using data from 70 stations, and we perform comparison at several temporal scales, including a climatic (30-year) scale. Besides confirming the findings of a previous assessment study that model projections at point scale are poor, results show that the spatially integrated projections are also poor. 

On the website of another voice missing from the ABC, Roger Pielke Snr, Prof. Koutsoyiannis wrote the following.
A common argument in favour of the political orientation of the IPCC is that its aims are good for humanity and the natural environment and that reducing emissions of greenhouse gases will be beneficial for the planet, regardless of the ultimate validity of the IPCC model predictions. However, we believe that science is a process for the pursuit of truth and that fidelity to this system should not be affected by other aims. History shows that such distractions can be detrimental to science. 
Why wouldn't this view be of interest to ABC's audience? 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Past Alarm. World's Coral: 40% gone by 2010

On Monday 22 April 2002 ABC's flagship current affairs program, 4 Corners, broadcast the following alarming prediction in a report titled: Beautiful one day.
Across the world, coral reefs are turning into marine deserts. It’s estimated that more than a quarter have been lost and that 40 per cent could be gone by 2010.
From the transcript:
According to the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, 10 per cent of the world's reefs were lost by 1992.
27 per cent were lost by the year 2000.
And it's expected 40 per cent will be gone by 2010.

In 1997 the area of the world's coral reefs was estimated to be 255,000km2. Reference.
If the prediction made on 4 Corners is to be believed, then in 2010 the area of the world's coral reefs should be around 153,000km2. 
Instead, in 2011, one year on from that alarming forecast, we find that the global area of coral reef is estimated to be 249,713km2. Reference.
This amounts to a change from 1997 figures of -2.1%. Given the unreported uncertainties, there has essentially been no change in global reef area over the past 10 years. Within error, essentially none of the reefs are missing in 2010. This ABC story turns out to be yet another beat up, designed to scare rather than inform. 
Will Four corners now provide an update? Or will it leave this forecast of climate doom to go uncorrected?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mountain cattlemen not what they used to be.

According to images used by ABC environment mountain cattlemen are not what they used to be.
Likewise, cane farmers,
Sodden Tassie Farmers,
tuna, and
burping sheep.
ABC Environment, where the incompetence never ceases.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

No Balance in Q and A coverage

The Australian's Cut and Paste highlight a one sided report by ABC News titled "Anti-Discrimination chief attacks intervention". Seems that ABC's Groupthink culture is not limited to one sided coverage of the climate change debate but also encompasses social issues as well.
ABC report "The Anti-Discrimination Commissioner says the federal intervention in the Northern Territory is "counter-intuitive" and disempowers Aboriginal people." 

From the Q and A transcript
Tony Jones to Central Australian Aboriginal activist Bess Price: Are you still for the intervention, by the way?
Price: I am for the intervention because I've seen progress. I've seen women who now have voices. They can speak for themselves and they are standing up for their rights. Children are being fed and young people more or less know how to manage their lives. That's what's happened since the intervention.

ABC did not think this worth a mention?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Missing News - ice melt-not that much of a problem

ABC Science, care of its activist reporter Sara Phillips, follow a familiar theme on sea level with this story titled "Ice Melt a weighty problem:expert". Other experts perhaps less prone to influence of  Henny Penny, and Goosey Loosey than the ABC's appear to disagree, reporting:  that, if current ice sheet melting rates continue for the next four decades, their cumulative loss could raise sea level by 15 centimeters (5.9 inches) by 2050.  Nonetheless the authors caution that considerable uncertainties remain in estimating future ice loss acceleration.

That's 15 centimeters. In their alarmist article ABC highlight the physically possible but apparently unlikely figure of 5 meters. Why the focus on the high-end scenario? Where's the balance?

The less scary perspective, missing from ABC's report, is apparently not felt important enough for ABC's audience. Where's the Balance?

This bias and personal activism apparently flies in the face of ABC's new Editorial standards that state:

1.3 Ensure that editorial decisions are not improperly influenced by political, sectional, commercial or personal interest.
4.1 Gather and present news and information with due impartiality.
4.2 Present a diversity of perspectives so that, over time, no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded or disproportionately represented.

4.5 Do not unduly favour one perspective over another.  
The new Editorial Policy appears to have done nothing to reduce the influence of Groupthink in the ABC.

Complaint lodged, we'll report the findings.

Complaints frozen

The most recent upheld complaint posted to ABC's website is dated 14/3/2011. Are Audience and Consumer Affairs aiming to match ABC News in the productivity stakes? We presume normal service will return soon.

In the meantime readers should note ABC's new complaint handling guidelines. Refer to the last page of the revised Code of Practice. You can still complain using the online complaints page (HERE). Note also that the ABC's Complaints Review Executive and the Independent Complaints Review Panel are no longer part of the process. Instead if you are now dissatisfied with the ABC’s response, or if you have not received a response within 60 days of making your complaint to the ABC, then you are entitled to complain to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA). You can write to the ACMA at:
Australian Communications and Media Authority
PO Box Q500, Queen Victoria Building
Sydney NSW 2000
Fax: 02 9334 7799
Email: broadcasting@acma.gov.au

Cut and Pasted

After years of blitzkrieg, is Tim Flannery's mega-idea going the way of the giant wombat?

Monday, April 11, 2011

one little black book

ABC's new editorial policies come into force today. A little black book to match that black skivvie, that black shirt, that black suit...One little black book to rule them!

We'll be exploring the content and consequences of ABC's new editorial policies over the coming months. Of interest is the new guidance on balance in section 4 that includes the following statement:
"ABC is  guided by these hallmarks of impartiality: • a balance that follows the weight of evidence."

Based on this can we now expect ABC to dump its continued support of Tim Flannery's debunked Blitzkrieg theory of megafaunal extinction? Or will this piece of popular fiction be further defended against the tidal wave of scientific evidence.
Does an emphasis on "evidence" mean our missing stories on climate change will be covered? The editorial standard expressed in section 4.5 "Do not unduly favour one perspective over another." seems to suggest a wave of those missing stories are about to be unleashed.
We shall wait and see.

Tim Flannery: climate change denier?

An open letter to our Climate Commissar.

Dear Prof. Flannery,
Is your continued support of the Blitzkrieg theory for the extinction of Australia's megafauna* and apparent ignorance of the overwhelming evidence supporting the long term role played by changing climate in the decline of the megafauna a sign that you are a climate change denier?
(*an increasingly marginal theory lying outside the current consensus of mainstream science that claims humans were solely responsible for the extinction of Australia's megafauna)
Looking Forward to Your Response.

PS. We note that ABC still host your Future Eaters site. Do you think it is fair that tax payers continue to support debunked theories?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Missing News: Flannery's future eaters fictitious

Australia's Climate Commissar Tim Flannery is a big believer in the theory that Australia's megafauna were driven to extinction by a human-induced culinary blitzkrieg. The notion that human's were to blame for our missing mega-fauna was explored at length in Flannery's best selling book "The Future Eaters". Flannery has stated that he believes "that in the absence of humans, the giant marsupials would still be in Australia today" That "the megafauna went out with a bang and not a whimper." 
The notion that man has had such a drammatic impact on the environment in the distant past obviously accords well with the current paradigm of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming in which Flannery is also true believer. However it appears to be wrong.
Flannery's pet theory has been blown away (again!) by new research published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews.  Under the title "Dating megafaunal extinction on the Pleistocene Darling Downs, eastern Australia: the promise and pitfalls of dating as a test of extinction hypotheses" researchers based at the University of Queensland used a suite of sophisticated dating methods to show "that the progressive loss of local megafauna was initiated well before the accepted period of human continental colonisation. Hence, the data suggest that humans were unlikely to have played any role in the extirpation of the affected local megafauna during that interval."
"... the new dates suggest that that the loss of at least some local megafauna occurred over an extended interval of time through the late Pleistocene and was not a geologically-instantaneous event. Hence, data from these controlled excavations do not support the blitzkrieg or attritional overkill hypotheses, which suggest that the losses should have occurred over short timescales of only 500 -1500 years."

Researchers point to drammatic natural changes in the environemnt as the main causeof the decline in the megafauna. These include:1) decreasing temperatures as climate shifted into a glacial interval; 2) falling sea levels (>60 m); 3) step-wise increases in aridity, including widespread megadroughts; and 4) significant changes in vegetation consistent with contraction of wet-forests and spread of sclerophyllus vegetation and grassland.

From the abstract: "Importantly, the dates suggest that the local decline in biological diversity was initiated not, vert, similar75,000 years before the colonisation of humans on the continent. Collectively, the data are most parsimoniously consistent with a pre-human climate change model for local habitat change and megafauna extinction, but not with a nearly simultaneous extinction of megafauna as required by the human-induced blitzkrieg extinction hypothesis. This study demonstrates the problems inherent in dating deposits that lie near the chronological limits of the radiocarbon dating technique, and highlights the need to cross-check previously-dated archaeological and megafauna deposits within the timeframe of earliest human colonisation and latest megafaunal survival."

The site of Flannery's dating (Ned's Gully) is now under further investigation. More careful dating may reveal the earlier dates were erroneous. Regardless, the new research indicates Australia's Future Eaters are but a figment of an overactive imagination.

We await ABC's coverage of this important revelation.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Missing News: Medieval warm period in Scandinavia

Figure 8 from Gunnarson et al 2011 showing re-constructed temperatures that appear to be at odds with ABC's Groupthink position on climate change..
ABC further reinforces its Groupthink climate echo chamber by failing to inform its audience of a recent peer reviewed study that finds temperatures 900 years ago were similar to those today. The rate of warming also higher in the 1100s than 1900s. The Hockey Stick is dead but its Zombie staggers on at the ABC.
The Title: "Improving a tree-ring reconstruction from west central Scandinavia: 900 years of warm-season temperatures"
The Journal: CLIMATE DYNAMICS Volume 36, Numbers 1-297-108DOI: 10.1007/s00382-010-0783-5
The Authors:Bjorn E. Gunnarson • Hans W. Linderholm •Anders Moberg
The Abstract: Dendroclimatological sampling of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) has been made in the province of Jamtland, in the west-central Scandinavian mountains, since the 1970s. The tree-ring width (TRW) chronology spans several thousand years and has been used to reconstruct June–August temperatures back to 1632 BC. A maximum latewood density (MXD) dataset, covering the period AD 1107–1827 (with gap 1292–1315) was presented in the 1980s by Fritz Schweingruber. Here we combine these historical MXD data with recently collected MXD data covering AD 1292–2006 into a single reconstruction of April–September temperatures for the period AD 1107– 2006. Regional curve standardization (RCS) provides more low-frequency variability than ‘‘non-RCS’’ and stronger correlation with local seasonal temperatures (51% variance explained). The MXD chronology shows a stronger relationship with temperatures than the TRW data, but the two chronologies show similar multi-decadal variations back to AD 1500. According to the MXD chronology, the period since AD 1930 and around AD 1150–1200 were the warmest during the last 900 years. Due to large uncertainties in the early part of the combined MXD chronology, it is not possible to conclude which period was the warmest. More sampling of trees growing near the tree-line is needed to further improve the MXD chronology.
The Link: http://www.springerlink.com/content/r6783q20q4u56t68/

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fishing for the truth

Updated below...
ABC HEADLINE: "Toxic caesium found in fish off Japan"
ABC REPORTED: The first sentence reads: Traces of radioactive caesium have been found for the first time in fish off Japan's east coast.
THE COMPLAINT: The claim is a blatant falsehood. Radioactive caesium has been known in fish off Japan since at least the early 1960s as confirmed by the following article published in the Journal of Radiation Research in 1973. Here's the abstract:

Cesium-137 Contamination of Marine Fishes from The Coasts of Japan Journal of Radiation Research
Vol.14 , No.4 (1973) pp.382-391 
1) Division of Environmental Contamination, National Institute of Radiological Sciences
[Received: 1973/07/16]
[Published: 1973/12/15]
[Released: 2006/07/14]
Abstract: The uptake and accumulation of cesium-137 by fishes from sea water was studied through the field studies for eight years (1963-1970). The concentrations of cesium-137 in marine fish muscles have decreased with time since 1963, and the concentration factors ranged from 11 to 81. On the other hand, the concentration factors of stable cesium remained in a narrow range between 34 and 52. The mean value of the observed ratio (OR) calculated by cesium-137 and potassium was 5.7 during the period from 1964 to 1970, and the OR value based on stable cesium was 5.9. The ratios between annual mean values of the specific activities of fish muscles and of sea water were found to be from 0.6 to 1.5.
From these data, if the concentration of cesium-137 in the environmental sea water is known, it is possible to estimate the approximate concentrations of cesium-137 in marine fishes by using the concentration factor or observed ratio without any analytical procedures.
OUTCOME: Received from ABC Audience and Consumer affairs via email sent 19/4/2011:

On April 6, in a report about contamination found in fish off the coast of Japan, the ABC incorrectly reported that “Traces of radioactive caesium have been found for the first time in fish off Japan's east coast”. In fact, traces of caesium have been found before, however it is believed that the radioactive caesium is believed to have come from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
The story has been corrected and an editor’s note attached.
ABC News apologises for the error.
Accordingly, Audience and Consumer Affairs have concluded that the story was not in keeping with the ABC’s editorial standards for accuracy.
Thank you for taking the time to write; your feedback is appreciated.
Note added to story reads...
Editor's note (April 12): This story has been amended to remove a reference saying this was the first time caesium had been found in fish caught off Japan.

COMMENT: ABC News: once again caught fishing for the truth.
Score +1

Monday, April 4, 2011

Help restore the balance: support Menzies List

ABC have published their annual report into Equity and Diversity. While there has been an increase in the number of women, indigenous Australians, the disabled and  Australians from non-English speaking backgrounds, it seems that the number of ABC employees voting for conservative and center-right political parties remains at an all time low and if anything the numbers are falling dramatically*.  This does not reflect the spread of political attitudes in the community that are pretty much evenly divided between right and left.

To instill some balance, common sense and rational opinion to "our" ABC, we propose the establishment of "Menzies List". From now on, as vacancies arise in the ABC, positions will be filled from Menzies List until balance is restored (given there are currently so few conservative employees this may take some time).

Extreme prejudice requires extreme action. You know it's right. Write to your MP today, insist the ABC employ Menzies List to fill future vacancies. Do your part to help break ABC's GROUPTHINK culture.

*Perhaps this helps explain ABC's falling productivity? 

The wrong hat?

ABC Environment continue mixing headlines and images. No surprise considering the way they confuse propaganda for news ...