Climate Change and Media Reporting: Where fairness, isn’t fair at all

‘One issues that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate’ – delivered by President Barack Obama at the 2014 Climate Summit where the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, failed to attend. 

Climate Change not only affects Polar Bears, but us too. http://socialjournalism.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/climateChange.jpg
Climate Change not only affects Polar Bears, but us too.
http://socialjournalism.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/climateChange.jpg

Climate Change is an phenomenon which effects all of us here on Earth. We all know that the seas are rising, ice sheets are melting and glaciers are retreating. Climate Change is an issue that is bigger than one person or one country and therefore can be difficult to understand and tackle (Dreher, 2014). A problem affecting our ideas and knowledge about climate change and the facts behind it is the media, specifically the role of journalists. Without media coverage of these issues, the majority of the world would not not it was occurring. According to the US-based Society of Professional Journalism (SJP), Ward outlines that journalists ‘should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information’ (Ward, 2009). The general public put a lot of trust and faith in journalists that they are abiding by these outlines, however, being ‘fair’ doesn’t always mean being fair towards the issue.

The video above illustrates the concept of ‘false balance’ in order to appear ‘fair.’ Dreher describes false balance as ‘equal space, time, weighting to views who are skeptical,’ where their views are amplified and thus appear legitimate to audiences. The end of this video demonstrates the reality of the number of scientists who believe and acknowledge climate change- 99% vs. 1 skeptic. If the media was reporting these numbers, perhaps more of the general public would acknowledge the effects of climate change and be more inspired to act and take responsibility. In this case, is it ok that journalists dismiss the outline to be ‘fair’ and instead, be fair towards the issue they’re reporting on? I believe it is justified.

Perhaps we as the audience could consider the value that blogs offer to our knowledge of an issue. Whilst there is debate about the credibility of bloggers, it doesn’t detract from some blogs excelling in their field of expertise. Top Climate Change Blogs like Real Climate are written by climate scientists and their information is backed by scientific research. Blogs provide a platform for scientists to express their knowledge, research and opinions, and maybe more and more scientists will take to blogging because news sources won’t publish or will mislead their voices and information.

Real Climate Blog http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/
Real Climate Blog
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/
Where Real Climate get their information/data from http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/
Where Real Climate get their information/data from
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/
They reference weather stations, independent research, models and centres with experience and expert knowledge. http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/
They reference weather stations, independent research, models and centres with experience and expert knowledge.
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/

The media is in a state of changing and the value of publishing online is becoming more and more prominent and respected. With climate change being an immediate and detrimental threat to our earth, it is crucial that we hear the truth about these issues and are not mislead by journalists or news companies, so that we can begin to act. I believe the debate about whether or not climate change is occurring should be well and truly over. Instead, we should be debating what and how we can combat it, so that future generations can enjoy the beauty our world has to offer.

References

Dreher, T 2014, BCM111 ‘Global Crises, Global News: Pacific Calling Partnership’, lecture notes, accessed 08/10/2014, University of Wollongong.

Romm, J 2007,  Climate Change Progress,Top 10 Climate Change Blogs’,  accessed 12 October 2014, http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2007/08/28/201810/top-ten-climate-change-blogs/

Ward, B 2009, Ethics and Environmental Politics ‘Journalism ethics and climate change reporting in a period of intense media uncertainty, Vol. 9: 13-15

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