Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Where they hide the corrections

The Australian Newspaper report: ABC boss Mark Scott signals new corrections policy.
ABC managing director Mark Scott has signalled a dramatic shift in the way the national broadcaster publishes corrections and apologies after becoming embroiled in a series of controversies over the standard of its reporting and its refusal to admit mistakes.

ABC do a great job hiding their errors and corrections. Here's how to find the ones they acknowledge:

In an internet browser of your choice:


You'll note there is no easy one click link to ABC's many errors, corrections and misrepresentations.

Scroll to the very bottom of the page,

Click the link to ABC contacts

In the left hand column click on the link:

Feedback and enquiries: contact the ABC

On the right hand side there is now a list with a number of choices:

Upheld complaints This has a list of years. Click on a year to bring up a list of complaints "upheld".

Resolved complaints This was introduced seemingly in 2011. The difference to "upheld" complaints something only known to ABC's bureaucrats.

Reports and reviews Summary reports going back to 2002. 

To confuse matters ABC news has their own corrections page. It too is buried. To find it:
Click the link to NEWS in the top menu bar
Scroll down to the small print at the bottom of the page where you'll find a link titled: 
This has a list of corrections back to 2010.

Details of ABC's complaints were also previously posted in Annual reports when they were referred to the now defunct  "Independent Complaints Review Panel".

Thursday, February 13, 2014

coral bleached-odd definition of decimated


past tense: decimated; past participle: decimated
  1. 1.
    kill, destroy, or remove a large proportion of.
    "the inhabitants of the country had been decimated"
  2. 2.
    kill one in every ten of (a group of people, originally a mutinous Roman legion) as a punishment for the whole group.
    "the man who is to determine whether it be necessary to decimate a large body of mutineers"

ABC use the word in the following headline:

We did not find the word "decimated" used by scientists in the article, this appears to be another case of ABC exaggeration. 

A recent relevant CSIRO report provides the following information about the bleaching event:
Unfortunately, on the trip the research team found evidence of coral bleaching in the region due to some recent marine heatwaves, including the bleaching of a pocket of ancient coral heads – many up to 400 years old – that have provided an important record of reef health.
“We suspect this bleaching event was due to marine heatwaves that occurred in the region over the past few summers, and to see it up so close was sobering,” said our lead scientist on the project, Dr Russ Babcock.
“But to offset this loss, some reefs only a short distance north showed much less damage and will continue to contribute to a healthy ecosystem. By studying these sorts of variations and why they occur, we can improve our overall understanding of the marine environment in the region, and how we can best preserve it”.
The team managed to take some great images of the incredibly diverse flora and fauna that sits under the waters of the Pilbara. We asked Russ to run us through a few photos from the trip to give you an insight into the work of a marine biologist – and maybe even help you learn something in the process! Click on one of the images below to view the gallery.
Decimation seems an exaggeration to me. One of the images accompanying ABC's report which presumably shows the purported "decimation" is re-produced below:
This is ABC's caption: Christmas Tree Worms on a Porites coral head, that has been bleached by a marine heatwave off WA's Montobello Island.
This is a CSIRO photo. Here's the CSIRO's caption for the same photo (oddly no mention of bleached coral): "A coral reef Christmas Display. Those coloured blobs you can see are called Christmas Tree worms, and they are sitting on a porites coral colony. The worm's name is misleading on two counts-they spend their whole life sitting in a tube in a decidedly un-worm like state, and they prevalent all year round,but just don't tell the kids."
We have asked Alan Sunderland and CSIRO's Dr Russ Babcock for comment.

From ABC 11/3/2014:
Thank you for your email of 13 February concerning coral bleaching off the Pilbara coast.  

As your correspondence raised concerns of a lack of accuracy, your email was referred to Audience and Consumer Affairs for consideration and response. The unit is separate and independent from ABC program areas and is responsible for investigating complaints alleging a broadcast or publication was in contravention of the ABC's editorial standards. In light of your concerns, we have reviewed the story and assessed it against the ABC’s editorial requirements for accuracy, as outlined in section 2 of the ABC’s Editorial Policies. In the interests of procedural fairness, we have also sought and considered material from ABC News.

The word 'decimated' used in the headline was taken directly from the CSIRO's Media Release which states:

"Some unwelcome discoveries were made, including the bleaching and decimation of a pocket of ancient coral heads - many up to 400 years old - that have provided an important record of reef health".

As the CSIRO is Australia's top scientific organisation, the use of the headline 'Coral reef off Pilbara coast in Western Australia decimated by marine heatwave, scientists say' is a legitimate description of the content covered in the story.

The original caption, however, did not refer to the photo that was published and has been changed.

ABC News apologises for any confusion that may have resulted.

score +1

Recommended Reading: ABC complaint's process

Geoffrey Luck has a great article at Quadrant covering the history of ABC's complaints process.

How The ABC Gets Away With It

Complain all you like about the broadcaster's transgressions against fact and impartiality, but it is unlikely to do a scrap of good. While Managing Director Mark Scott embraces semantics, the review process wraps complaints in lawyerly language, obfuscation and interminable delays

Click the link to read the rest.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What ABC is teaching our Kids

ABC environment and the ABC "Splash" website have published an op ed by former weather presenter Rob Gell.

The piece(s) contain this glaring piece of sensationalism:

"Last year, 2013, was Australia's hottest year ever and we've started 2014 with another 50°C heatwave over inland Australia that then migrated to the southeastern states."

"another 50°C heatwave"!

Temperatures as measured at Bureau of Meteorology station did not pass 50°C this summer anywhere in Australia. The correct descriptor would be "another high 40s°C heatwave", but of course we get those every year! But where is the news in that? We have requested ABC investigate.

ABC promote "Splash" as 
  • a new world-class education website for Australia

Sadly it seems the site has the same respect for the facts as the rest of the ABC.


The following from ABC: received today...

You are correct that no temperatures above 50 degrees were recorded in the period described. The story has been corrected.

ABC Digital Education apologises for this mistake.

Audience and Consumer Affairs are satisfied correcting the story adequately resolves the matter.

Score +1

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Trade winds slower or faster?

WUWT has an interesting post on the conflicting nature of recent climate change research:

While Matthew England claims in a new paper that fast trade winds caused cooling.

Once again ABC's reporters fail their readers by not mentioning the glaring contradiction given they covered the 2006 paper. One wonders where ABC's "journalists" are getting their training. Seems the ABC's Groupthink hot house is failing to imbibe a sense of scepticism necessary for sound reporting.

Here's ABC's latest report:
Warming slowdown caused by Pacific winds
The research, published in Nature Climate Change, shows more than 20 years of strengthening trade winds has increased the circulation of water in the western Pacific Ocean.

The vast looping system of air currents that fuels Pacific trade winds and climate from South America to Southeast Asia may be another victim of climate change, scientists say

You can only sit back and weep! We made ABC's Alan Sunderland aware of the inconsistency.

Monday, February 3, 2014

A sit down and a chat

ABC need to have a sit down and chat about its performance on so many issues. Endemic groupthink has pushed public confidence in the organisation to new lows. Some recent op eds set the tone:

Andrew Bolt: The ABC is out of control and its boss simply attacks its critics.
Henry Ergas: But to ensure good use of the community's resources, it is not enough to ask whether the public service broadcasters are doing what they do properly; one must also ask whether they are doing the right things.
Paul Sheehan: This brings into question the judgment of the news and current affairs division, and its self-perpetuating, cultural proclivities at the most basic, granular and reflexive level.

Some further comment at Catallaxy: The ABC is in trouble

Update Good line in an Oz editorialAn examination of facts shows the ABC's reporting of torture claims against the navy was wrong, unjustified, incorrect and irresponsible, whatever its motives.