Study Shows Systematic Deficiency in Climate-Change Reporting

An analysis of climate-change coverage in four major U.S. newspapers from 1988 to 2002 confirms what many enviros have long charged: Media coverage of global warming is woefully deficient. A growing chorus of media critics says that the journalistic convention of “balance,” which dictates that in order to remain “fair” a reporter must give equal space to two opposing viewpoints, can distort public understanding of issues on which there is in fact broad consensus. So it goes for climate change: “We respect the need to represent multiple viewpoints, but when generally agreed-upon scientific findings are presented side-by-side with the viewpoints of a handful of skeptics, readers are poorly served,” said Jules M. Boykoff, coauthor of the analysis, which appeared in the latest version of the journal Global Environmental Change. The analysis also took note of the success of heavily funded industry efforts to generate a cadre of climate-change skeptics able to provide quotes to an eager and credulous press.