controversy and ‘balanced’ reporting

Back in the begining I touched on why a climate of doubt had arisen in the general public. I’d like to revisit this now and really delve into the role of the press and goverment in creating uncertainty around climate change.

Media bias has significantly affected public understanding and action in the climate change controversy. The journalistic practice of balancing scientific consensus with a comparatively small number of contrarians has implied to the public that there is a high degree of academic disagreement around climate change (Boykoff and Boykoff 2004). This ‘balanced’ reporting has allowed a small group of global warming sceptics to have their views amplified (Boykoff and Boykoff 2004), undermining public confidence that the problem of global warming is a real (Seacrest et al 2000).

Large-scale under reporting and ‘balanced’ (biased) articles, plus frames that dwelled on uncertainty and controversy (often through the use of climate changes deniers as sources), have distorted public understanding of climate changes threats (Antilla 2010).

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2 Responses to controversy and ‘balanced’ reporting

  1. Joan Leach says:

    hmmm, yes, the ‘balanced’/bias problem. I really hate the word bias…basically, it just means ‘point of view’. Is there really a problem if a media article announces its point of view? Then you know what you’re reading. The problem seems to be when you think you’re reading something with ‘no’ point of view…just ‘the facts’ as it were. Then, ‘balance’ is a real problem, because who is doing the balancing? Most science journalists recognise that the goal is to reflect consensus…but then again, that can start looking like representing an ‘old boys club’ of Western scientists. Tricky to get it right, I think. But I kinda think that the real problem is thinking that ‘unbiased’ reporting is possible. I’d rather know more about the point of view the writer takes.

    • It’s tricky, yes. I think the problem with most popular climate change communication is that it is generally presented as fact, not as though both sides are just presenting their varying opinions. I am confident with climate change science and feel that if communicated properly could be presented as fact, with little problem of bias. In contrast when anti-climate change views are presented I believe these are mis-placed opinions. In this case the level of certainty/importance of these claims should be communicated to public and it should be emphasised they are entirely opinion based. Of course this is due to my bias though!!

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