Wednesday, June 5, 2013

made to walk on broken glass

Op Ed in today's Australian compares the treatment of ABC's reportage of scientific papers that are for and against the ABC's Groupthink position on climate change. One group gets milk and honey, one group gets broken glass.

Original Text with links below:

The path to ABC coverage for climate heretics is paved with broken glass.

There’s no doubt that ABC has a problem when it comes to fair and balanced reporting on the issue of climate change. Around this time last year the ABC gave two prominent Australian climate researchers almost carte blanche access to its radio, TV and online networks to spruik a paper they had written that claimed recent temperatures in Australia were the warmist in a 1000 years. Researchers David Karoly and Joelle Gergis scored almost blanket coverage on ABC’s AM, Radio National’s Breakfast Program, Radio AustraliaABC TV news, The Science Show. If was even tweeted by ABC Local Radio and was featured on ABC’s online website. None of these articles featured criticism from independent experts.

Gergis and Karoly’s paper was short lived. Online climate sceptics lead by Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit found methodological problems with the work, and the paper was subsequently withdrawn from publication to the embarrassment of the authors. The paper’s withdrawal was covered by News Limited and Fairfax press but was not covered by the ABC. The only mention by ABC was a brief editorial comment posted at the end of online articles. To our knowledge no formal correction was broadcast on ABC radio or TV.
For those who agree with the ABC’s vision of a nightmarish global warming future it seems the path to publicity and fame is paved with honey. However when you publish a paper that doesn’t fit the ABC’s entrenched position on Climate Change a different path awaits.  

The Australian recently reported on a new peer reviewed paper (CFCs 'are the real culprit in global warming', 3/6) that goes against the current consensus that global warming is caused mainly by CO2 emissions. The paper published in the International Journal of Modern Physics B by Canadian Physics Professor Qing-Bin Lu suggests interactions between CFCs and cosmic rays are the source of the polar ozone hole and global warming.  This appears a significant result worthy of media attention. Oddly ABC’s coverage of the paper by reporter Martin Cuddihy featured not the author of the paper, but IPCC author Dr David Karoly. In their article ABC seems to have thrown out section 4 of its Editorial Policies that deals with impartiality and diversity of perspectives. The ABC:
  • did not interview the author of the paper or provide an opportunity for him to reply to criticism levelled against his work.
  • ·         downplayed the credentials of Professor Lu and failed to include an interesting Australian link. It seems Professor Lu gained his PhD at the University of Newcastle.
  • ·         Over emphasised the qualifications of critic Dr David Karoly, whose base degree is in mathematics, not climate science.
  • ·         made fun of the paper by claiming "The paper has a rather wordy title". The paper is titled COSMIC-RAY-DRIVEN REACTION AND GREENHOUSE EFFECT OF HALOGENATED MOLECULES: CULPRITS FOR ATMOSPHERIC OZONE DEPLETION AND GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE.  19 words. Recent papers by ABC's critic, Dr David Karoly include this one: On the long-term context of the 1997-2009 'Big Dry' in South-Eastern Australia: insights from a 206-year multi-proxy rainfall reconstruction. 24 words! It is surely no surprise that some science articles have long titles but it seems ABC’s critic Dr Karoly wins the wordiness contest. How this relevant to the topic is beyond me.
  • ·         did not question claims made by Dr Karoly that unfairly misrepresented of the content of an international science journal. Karoly states:  “It has been published in a journal which appears to not normally publish articles on climate change science”. A search of "climate change" in "International Journal of Modern Physics B" provides 25 results, "global warming" provides 27 results. Contrary to Dr Karoly’s claims it seems articles on climate change are quite normal in this journal.

ABC based its report on one heavily biased opinion. It didn’t even bother to speak with the author!

It’s been more than 3 years since former ABC Chairmen Maurice Newman pointed out ABC had a groupthink problem with its climate change coverage. It seems that ABC Managing Director has done absolutely nothing in those three years to address it. Sadly, based on Mr Scott’s recent performance in senate estimates defending the appointment of the partisan Russell Skelton as the ABC’s new fact checker I don’t have any hope his limp wristed management style will result in any change in ABC’s biased coverage. 

1 comment:

  1. I admit to having been a skeptic when I read Maurice Newman's assertion that ABC was biased and subject to group think. It did prompt me to focus more on the ABC commentariat though. Realisation soon dawned on me that my skepticism was ill-founded.

    ABC's performance in the global warming debate illustrates this starkly. I was appalled when I reflected on the ABC's coverage of the Lu paper (pun unintentional!). Your reminder about the Karoly/Gergis paper's blockbuster-like coverage, followed by the merest retraction possible by ABC carries weight.

    On group think, their ABC from managing director down through to the commentariat can be labelled "deniers". Deliciously ironic isn't it?


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