Amazing Discovery: A Solid Journalism Academic

  • Date: 08/08/17
  • Tony Thomas, Quadrant

The adage that ‘those who can’t do teach’ might have been uttered with our universities’ media faculties in mind. There is at least one exception, however, a Wollongong lecturer who gets students to check facts, especially about climate-change claims. Sadly, he is retiring

blackall smallCan you even imagine it! A  journalism lecturer  shows students how to fact-check the climate alarmists’ wild claims and doom-laden forecasts. And he publishes a peer-reviewed commentary, Environmental  Reporting in a Post Truth World,analysing how the media ignores research that runs contrary to the alarmist narrative.

Lordy! How can this fellow get away with it in our all-pervading Left-alarmist academic establishment?

Meet Dr David Blackall (above), senior lecturer in journalism at Wollongong University. His paper is in the journal Asia Pacific  Media Educator. But since he’s in the process of retiring after 25 years with the university, he can rock the boat without fearing for his career prospects.[1]

“I’m packing up my office right now,” he tells Quadrant Online. “I haven’t had any backlash, even though the climate debate seems to be getting increasingly toxic and nasty. Younger academics can’t call out the fake news on climate like I can, because they’d risk their jobs and mortgages.”

The Wollongong Bachelor of Journalism course takes in about 80 entrants a year, plus others from an allied course, Bachelor of Communication and Media Studies. Blackall’s first degree is a Bachelor of Science (Agriculture), and he taught senior HSC agriculture, biology, physics and chemistry for ten years into the 1980s. This broad science background advantages him over non-science journalism academics, and over scientists so over-specialised that they miss the big picture.

Blackall is an ardent conservationist of biodiversity. He has his own 16ha wildlife  refuge reserve ‘Nadjunuga’ at Cambewarra  Mountain, previously a university field station, which he has managed for nearly 40 years. He has also taught and practiced investigative journalism, and last year co-authored an FOI-based study in the Lawyers Alliance journal Precedent on the Ponzi-style fraud and collapse of the Trio Capital Group during 2003-10.

The Blackall Post Truth paper has been re-blogged by leading European sceptic Pierre Gosselin, who asks, “Would it be so difficult for journalists to actually seek scientific verification of their claims before publishing? Or is the pursuit of real-world scientific confirmation too much to expect from journalists and media sources bent on advancing an agenda in this ‘Post Truth World’?”

Blackall writes that journalism students can be defensive about climate because they want careers in corporate media where the “greenhouse warming” narrative holds sway. “Contrary but accurate science journalism  must be generated for balancing societal discourse and demonstrating the Earth’s natural variability,” he writes. Journalists fail to verify facts, including that polar bear populations are increasing, contrary to what he calls the ‘emotional propaganda’ and ‘fake news’ of alarmists.

To deflect being labelled a ‘climate denier’, he gives students assignments on hypotheticals such as the impact of deforestation on clouds and climate. “In previous epochs, CO2 levels were around 400ppm, as they are now, but never in human history has the Earth’s surface been as denuded,” he writes. He cites a study this year that CO2 emissions from land-use changes –  such as tree harvesting and clearing for shifting  agriculture – have been substantially under-estimated.

“However, as a journalism educator, I also recognise that my view, along with others, must be open to challenge both within the scientific community and in the court of public opinion,” he continues.

“It is my responsibility to provide my students with the research skills they need to question – and test – the arguments put forward by key players in any debate.  Given the complexity of the climate warming debate, and the contested nature of the science that underpins both sides, this will provide challenges well into the future.  It is a challenge our students should relish, particularly in an era when they are constantly being bombarded with ‘fake news’ and so-called ‘alternative facts’.

“To do so, they need to understand the science. If they don’t, they need to at least understand  the key players in the debate and what is motivating them. They need to be prepared to question these people and to look beyond their arguments to the agendas that may be driving them. If they don’t, we must be reconciled to a future in which ‘fake news’ becomes the norm.”

He alerts his students to fake climate pictures, such as the use by Reuters of a 2010 photo-shopped image of two Adelie penguins on a block of melting Antarctic ice. The same faked picture (below) had also been used in 2013 to illustrate arctic warming (notwithstanding that penguins aren’t found in the Arctic). He also directs students to look into the  dubious ‘pause-busting” paper by Tom Karl of NOAA, timed to influence the 2015 Paris climate summit. “There are many agendas at play, with careers at stake,” he says.

penguins on ice

Blackall’s paper queries why journalists fail to report the widening gap between climate models’ temperature forecasts and actual temperatures. Similarly, they don’t report the non-acceleration of sea-level rise, a big problem for the alarmist narrative.

His main argument is that human-caused greenhouse gases are not the main source of climate change, as claimed by the climate establishment.  The flat-lining of global temperatures in the past two decades despite massive CO2 increases is an obvious problem for the orthodox narrative, he says. There are multiple interacting and little-understood natural causes, but computer modelling is privileged over other relevant disciplines, such as geology. Alarmists play down the major uncertainties and use ‘consensus’ as a culture of gatekeeping  against contrary views. “Then, and dangerously, dissenters are silenced so that chosen and ‘necessary’ discourses arrive in journals, conferences and boardrooms,” he writes.

Blackall outed himself as a climate sceptic nearly a decade ago. In a 2010 paper also published in Asia Pacific Media Educator   (“Anti-terrorism, climate change and ‘dog whistle’ journalism”) he wrote of the compliant mainstream news media fanning fears on behalf of governments about imaginary climate catastrophes.[2]

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