Welcome to Journalism's Brave New World
With luck and the passage of time, the annals of climate change will neither note nor long remember (thank you, Abe Lincoln) the communications imbroglio that for some, and too many, characterized the last two weeks of February 2009.
There were blossoms amidst these weeds and thorns, no doubting that. Slogging through the abundant muck was the downside.
Common Climate Misconceptions
The recent brouhaha (see related story, this posting) initiated by conservative columnist George Will’s February 15th syndicated column centers in part around his assertion that global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979, belying concerns of melting ice caps.
You can hear the two reporters and researcher laboring up the mountain, their boots scrunching against loose gravel, their lungs sucking in the Sierra air at 11,500 feet.
KQED radio’s Sasha Khokha and Gretchen Weber are reporting from Yosemite, following Portland State University geographer Hassan Basagic as he chronicles the decline of Dana Glacier over the past century.
It’s a compelling radio piece, but it’s only part of a multi-media package from the San Francisco-based public broadcasting station.
Dissecting Reporter Eric Pooley's Media Analysis
Veteran journalist Eric Pooley in January issued a powerful critique of the American press and its coverage of the 2008 cap-and-trade debate in the U.S. Senate. His central insight was that the “he said, she said” stenography that had once plagued coverage of climate science may be migrating into the climate change economics/policy debate.
On January 22 and 23, major new outlets reported on a study of tree death in the American West, a sobering analysis of how warmer temperatures affect old-growth trees.
The study was released that day in the journal Science. Trees have been dying faster than new ones can replace them for the last half-century, and the probable cause is a warmer regional climate and accompanying drought, the authors had written. The widespread coverage grew out of a teleconference organized on January 21 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which publishes Science.
Editorials Take on Early Obama Initiative
The extraordinary thing about editorials in American news media isn’t that they are inherently cunning or engaging. It’s that they treat mundane and complex issues alike with an unusual degree of disparity while presenting detailed arguments.
This is the case with a recent announcement by President Barack Obama as he maneuvered a sharp U-Turn from Bush Administration environmental policies in a closely watched case involving California and fuel economy standards.
What Lies Ahead as Mainstream Outlets Shrivel?
As the watchdog press splinters from an aged business model, the prospects for original reporting of climate change and environmental topics have seldom appeared more uncertain. Indeed, mainstream coverage of global climate change dwindled last year as newspapers filed for bankruptcy protection and curtailed or ceased publication in record numbers.