Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Press, Newspapers, Truth, Science and Tech News -- Going Extinct? Only PR blurbs will do?

By Paul K. Haeder

There is much in the media today about the media's role in shaping culture, thought, action, political landscapes and how we frame the big issues of our day, from health care policy, to green jobs, to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the Copenhagen Climate Change summit coming up, to climate change in general. I have a huge swatch of history tied to writing for daily newspapers. Dailies are dying, and two daily cities are as rare as honesty in the health care debate. These are not boding well for science, technology and those middle folk who work in cities and counties and for government agencies -- the old days included interviewing biologists about dams and culvert, or engineers about traffic loads, or any number of government workers on the work they do to keep this ship afloat. City, county, state, and the federal government work because of them, not the electeds. Those hard working, trained, experienced members of the health, safety, education, engineering, management, science and technology teams in governments are the reason why we have pretty much a well-oiled system. They also are on the front lines and can say so much about why we need bridges, why auto pollution kills, why mass transit works, why we need more policies on recycling, all of it and more, have been the stomping grounds of daily beat newspaper reporters.

Newspapers are dying, and so are the eyes and voices in the community. It won't happen on Twitter or Facebook or e-zines or digital newspapers.

Read my latest piece in the weekly here in Spokane. Read the other links to other stories about how the media have failed in the realm of science reporting, and climate change in particular.

"Down for the Count
Newspapers are hurting, but journalism is still crucial"

Paul K. Haeder

The Tucson Citizen — a newspaper that’s been around long enough to have reported on the 1881 shootout at the nearby OK Corral — was gunned down in April, after 140 years in the business as the evening newspaper. The editorial staffs of the Citizen and its rival, the morning Arizona Daily Star, competed for news — reporting on the elegance of humanity struggling under the stressors of sprawl, and writing about the drug war, bad politics, and the good, bad and ugly in the business community


Must-read study: How the press bungles its coverage of climate economics — “The media’s decision to play the stenographer role helped opponents of climate action stifle progress.”

January 25, 2009

One of the country’s leading journalists has written a searing critique of the media’s coverage of global warming, especially climate economics.

How Much Would You Pay to Save the Planet? The American Press and the Economics of Climate Change is by Eric Pooley for Harvard’s prestigious Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. Pooley has been managing editor of Fortune, national editor of Time, Time’s chief political correspondent, and Time’s White House correspondent, where he won the Gerald Ford Prize for Excellence in Reporting. Before that, he was senior editor of New York magazine.

"Don't dumb me down -- We laughed, we cried, we learned about statistics"

Ben Goldacre on why writing Bad Science has increased his suspicion of the media by, ooh, a lot of per cents

"Panel investigates media reporting on science and politics of stem cells"

"Journalistic Balance as Global Warming Bias Creating controversy where science finds consensus"

By Jules Boykoff and Maxwell Boykoff

A new study has found that when it comes to U.S. media coverage of global warming , superficial balance—telling "both" sides of the story—can actually be a form of informational bias. Despite the consistent assertions of the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that human activities have had a "discernible" influence on the global climate and that global warming is a serious problem that must be addressed immediately, "he said/she said" reporting has allowed a small group of global warming skeptics to have their views greatly amplified.


"Social media threats hyped by science reporting, not science"

Does using Twitter make you indifferent to the suffering of others? Will Facebook kill your grades? You might be forgiven for thinking that based on some recent press reports, but the science behind these stories doesn't necessarily support some of the reporting. Ars takes a look into how these stories developed.

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