When "Balanced" Journalism is Anything But Balanced

Tue, 2006-07-25 11:32Jim Hoggan
Jim Hoggan's picture

When "Balanced" Journalism is Anything But Balanced

Here's a marvellous attack on climate change science, scientists and media types who might take those scientists seriously. It's also a perfect example of a PR tactic that is being used to pervert the climate change conversation.

The writer, one Dick Little, complains that in a recent Discovery Channel feature on climate change, host Tom Brokaw failed to present the contrarian case. Little says, “… the fact is the program did not show anyone with proper scientific credentials to express an opposing viewpoint. That's not balance. That's propaganda.”

When there is a legitimate debate over a matter of opinion, it is relevant to invite debaters from both sides. When there is serious doubt about the reliability of a scientific conclusion, it is responsible journalism to canvas all sides. But when the Academies of Science of every major developed country in the world agree that the science is solid, it is frivolous at best - misleading at worst - to present their conclusion “on the one hand/on the other hand.”

The media has been so cowed by accusations of bias that they have tended to present “both sides” of the climate change “debate,” playing into the hands of those who can't win the debate but wish to sew doubt for as long as they can. The propaganda does not come from professional journalists exercising their judgment in choosing to present the most credible information: that's their job. The propaganda comes when people try to pervert that process.

Step up Mr. Little.