Friday, February 17, 2012

Missing News: Memory Hole and Climategate two

ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs provide the following response regarding their defamatory description of Professor Stewart Franks (see Sending Franks down the memory hole) and in doing so admit to missing one of the biggest news stories of 2011.

Received from ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs 17/2/2012
I refer to your email of 15 February 2012 regarding an item published on ABC News's Corrections and Clarifications page.  You complained that the item was highly defamatory and inaccurate.  Claims of defamation are outside the remit of Audience and Consumer Affairs; if you wish to pursue this matter you will need to direct your correspondence to ABC Legal.  My response below is confined to your complaint of inaccuracy.
On receipt of your complaint, ABC News agreed that the original correction had been poorly worded and should be changed.  The correction was amended, both in relation to the views of the professor and the basis for removal of the original story.  In view of this prompt and appropriate action, I regard this matter as resolved.
You also asked why the article was not amended rather than removed.  The story was the work of the ABC's Newcastle newsroom, who covered it on the basis that it provided an interesting local angle on an international story, ie the leaked or hacked climate emails. However, as it turns out, having covered the so-called 'climate-gate' emails when the first tranche of emails was disclosed in 2009, ABC News did not return to the international story in late 2011 as other competing stories were judged more deserving of coverage.  This unfortunately left the Newcastle story to stand alone.  By the time ABC News had their attention directed to the story in late January 2012, the news agenda had moved on.  ABC News concluded that removal of the story was the appropriate course of action in these circumstances.
The ABC is satisfied that no further action on this matter is warranted.
Yours sincerely,
Head, Audience and Consumer Affairs


Thanks for your prompt response and correcting the slander. I have forwarded it on to Professor Franks.

The reasons you provide for the story's removal however are unsatisfactory. Which matters were judged more deserving? Can ABC News provide some examples.


Reply from ABC
Dear Mr Hendrickx,
A broad sample of the stories covered by ABC News at that time is available on the ABC website.

Yours sincerely,
Head, Audience and Consumer Affairs

We attempted to look over ABC's News archive for late November 2011, but unfortunately it's currently not providing any links - we let them know.

The corrected correction reads as follows:

Climate emails

Posted Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:15pm AEDT | Updated Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:12am AEDT
ABC Newcastle: This story published on December 5 was removed because it was in breach of ABC editorial requirements. The story reported that a Newcastle University professor who questions aspects of climate change science felt vindicated that leaked scientific emails “showed fundamental flaws in the methodology” of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  These were not balanced by other views on this subject and the article did not associate the leaked emails with the Climategate emails of 2009.

ABC's explanation above indicates ABC entirely missed one of the major stories of 2011. Given the article apparently represents ABC's only news coverage of climategate2 we have suggested ABC's reluctance to salvage the article is due to bias. 
Sent to ABC:
Looking over your response once more I hardly think ABC's poor reporting should be the cause for removing the article from ABC's archive. Based on your statement below "ABC News did not return to the international story in
late 2011" It seems this story constituted the entirety of ABC's coverage of the second batch of climategate emails. 

As I pointed out in my complaint ABC have previously "salvaged" news articles that were initially not up to standard. See the polar bear report from 2009 (see also HERE). Given the high profile nature of the climategate story, its absence otherwise from ABC's news coverage and the previous precedents of ABC News salvaging articles; the only reason I can think of for ABC's reluctance to undertake this task is one of bias, and this a charge I now make. 

As this is a new complaint I ask ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs to investigate the matter.

Update: Off to ACMA we go:

From ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs, 20/2/2011:

My original response to you explained why the story you referred to was removed rather than updated.  The broader story of the release of a second tranche of climate-related emails had not been covered by ABC News as it was judged less newsworthy than other events.  This is a legitimate decision for a news organisation to make; it does not provide prima facie evidence of bias.  As I have already addressed the substance of your complaint, I decline to investigate this matter further.

I have also seen your additional complaint (C6535-12) referring to the News Archive for 2011.  I have not been able to replicate your experience of broken links and suggest you try the site again.

Yours sincerely,
Head, Audience and Consumer Affairs

Oh, score Plus 1


  1. And we pay these b......s wages. What a disgraceful pit of deceit this leftist taxpayer funded organisation has become!

  2. Dear Marc

    Thanks for your help in this matter.

    I am very gratified that I no longer 'reject the science of climate change', but instead 'question aspects of climate change science'.

    The former is indeed demafatory, whilst the latter is what every (good) scientist should do!

    Again, many thanks,


Please keep to the topic. Abusive comments and bad language are simply not tolerated. Note that your comment may take a little while to appear.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.