Politico’s Blunders on Climate Story: Science AND Journalism Principles Violated

It wasn’t so long ago that a number of leading climate scientists felt they needed a “rapid response mechanism” to forestall flawed climate reporting before it took off like a wildfire across the nation’s and world’s news sections. The result was realclimate.org, spearheaded largely by scientists Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt.

Times have changed sufficiently that reporters now have their own brand of rapid response mechanism, throwing cold water on blistering hot, and blisteringly flawed, climate change reporting before it gets much out of the starting gate.

The example du jour is a Thanksgiving week story by the politically well-connected and well-regarded (and Washington-influential) politico.com.

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Behavior-Changing Communications For Climate Change ‘Six Americas’

Newly released research on effective messaging to Americans regarding needed climate change actions points to discrete audience segments and urges careful targeting at each of six different group’s concerns, needs, and values.

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A Reporter's First-Hand Story

Assignment Greenland: Toledo Blade Reporter Tells Story Behind the Story


Tom Henry, veteran environmental reporter and columnist for The (Toledo) Blade, didn’t know just what to expect when he was called into a top editor’s office. The message? He was told to prepare for the assignment of a reporter’s lifetime. Here he tells the story about what led to his outstanding series on climate change in Greenland and its relevance to a Great Lakes region audience.


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'What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.'

The Ongoing 30-Year Lyme Disease War: Case Study of a Failure to Communicate

Lyme disease, dubbed one of the “deadly dozen” by a recent Wildlife Conservation Society report, could skyrocket as global shifts in temperature and precipitation transform ecosystems.

From a public policy standpoint, the situation is compounded by the communications issues complicating it, bringing to mind the well-known quote from the late actor Strother Martin in the 1967 film “Cool Hand Luke” — What we’ve got is failure to communicate.

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Obama Video Talk to Governors Prompts ‘Surprise’ Tone in Much News Coverage

Surprise – that President-Elect Barack Obama is confronting climate change in the midst of deepening global economic woes – and, again, surprise – that he took on climate change directly and firmly weeks before he officially takes office January 20.

Those were the hallmarks of several key news organizations’ reporting on the Obama taped video message November 17 to a climate change meeting of governors in California.

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Obama, Financial Crisis, Climate Change: Rocky Road Ahead for Journalism and Climate

After Hurricane Katrina, An Inconvenient Truth, the 2007 reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and other events pushed the climate change issue higher on the public agenda, it may have seemed that it wouldn’t soon slide back down.

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'It's the Economy [Not the Climate], Stupid!'

Media’s Presidential Endorsements
Offer Insights into Wanted Next Steps

Newspaper endorsements in a presidential election reveal more than where the nation has been or where it is now. They point the way toward a national agenda for the future.

By that measure, most American newspapers saw little room on the next president’s “To Do List” for action on the climate issue. Perhaps it’s not surprising, given the recession and world financial crisis, grinding wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a broken health care system, and continuing worries about public education and U.S. competitiveness.

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