Global warming is a prime example of what is killing the major media

  • Date: 16/12/09

The Examiner: A raft of reasons are advanced to explain why newspaper circulation and the ratings of major networks are falling faster than a rock down a well. Global warming encapsulates many of the media failings that have contributed to their own problems.

Can you think of one element of the global climate controversy that has been introduced by the major media? Can you think of one example where the major media has actually contributed to the public’s better understanding of any of the issues involved?

Major media have bought the party line. They have accepted without questioning the pronouncements of principal establishment figures and have bought into the symbology used by environmental groups and advocates. Had this generation of reporters and editors been working 30 years ago, we would still be fighting in Vietnam.

Almost as bad from a professional point of view, the major media have been boringly repetitive–and frequent with their boring repetition. Polar bear. Speech. Calving iceberg. Speech. Third world child or woman distraught because of a disaster that had nothing to do with climate change, such as earthquake or tsunami. Repeat. And then, back to the never-ending coverage of Michael Jackson’s death, Tiger Woods’ folly, ad nauseum.

Major media is also guilty of ignoring or marginalizing opposition. This is suicidal. Media thrives on debate. Ignoring the existence of an opposing side may serve a political purpose, but certainly not the interests of attracting and retaining media consumers. It serves the purposes of environmental advocates, but no-one else.

We are also in a period where the major media voices are embarrassingly bereft of any understanding of science–when Bill Nye the Science Guy is the most credible media figure on a show about global warming (CNN’s Campbell Brown), it is clear that major media don’t have the knowledge base to do a good job on stories like Climategate specifically, and global warming in general. The idea of getting relevant knowledge from characters like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh is absurd.

Of course, it’s easy to blame the public–after all, they’re buying the product. Oh, wait–they’ve stopped buying the product… Guess we’d better change the subject.

It would also be easy to blame this on reporters, but wrong. They are busy professionals who are struggling to fill an ever-expanding media hole with fewer resources. Editors and owners are to blame–but media owners include companies like General Electric, manufacturer of windmills and nuclear power plants, and Murdoch’s media conglomerate, that has advanced incrementally throughout the world by the simple expedient of endorsing the winning side of political power struggles in advance.

One might almost suspect an agenda at work. And no, I’m not suggesting a vast conspiracy. Just a series of complacent decisions to let the status quo continue, content in the certainty that mainstream advocates of environmental policy are pure of heart and always right.

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