Four years ago, staff editors and producers at National Public Radio began plans for an expansive series of reports showing how climate change has worked its way into every aspect of life around the globe, from the poorest coastal citizen to the largest industrial leader.
Then Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and dominated environmental programming for months.
Their minds full from an all-morning briefing on climate science from some of the nation’s leading experts, 18 top news executives from some of America’s leading news organizations reconvened after an outdoor lunch at Stanford University’s on-campus Dohrmann Grove, where they sat under the redwoods and an observant red-tailed hawk perched nearby.
When he set about to reply to a reader’s seemingly clear-cut inquiry criticizing his October 3 climate change news story, Louisville, Ky., reporter James Bruggers had no idea his entire e-mail dialog would end up verbatim in an interest group’s newsletter.
Common Climate Misconceptions
Some in the news media may be overplaying the extent of the risk that Northern Europe might soon plunge into a new Ice Age. They risk going beyond where the best science can now take them.
“Britain could be heading for a climate like Alaska,” the BBC reported back in 2003. It painted a stark picture of a life in which “our ports could be frozen over. Ice storms could ravage the country, and London could see snow lying for weeks on end.”
I agree with the essence of Professor Phil Meyer’s essay on objectivity in the launch issue of the Yale Forum, except that I’ve always argued that objectivity ultimately is impossible.
It goes out the window as soon as we choose which story to write and how we frame it (which used to be called “finding an angle”), which always requires judgment calls. Instead of objectivity, the achievable goals, to my way of thinking, are accuracy and fairness.
Physical and atmospheric scientist Benjamin D. Santer, of Lawrence Livermore, says he is taking a new “proactive” approach in dealing with news media.
Prior to having participated in several face-to-face workshops involving climate scientists and journalists over the past few years, Santer says his standard “mode of operation” had been to:
The climate change blog world has been abuzz about a pending study said by some to challenge a widely-cited 2004 analysis suggesting a strong scientific “consensus” on anthropogenic climate change.
But whether and where the much-ballyhooed analysis sees the light of day in a peer-reviewed form appears very much in doubt.