Muddled impartiality is still harming climate coverage
A damning verdict on the BBC's coverage of climate change has just been delivered, and rightly so.
As the UK's most trusted media outlet, the BBC is vital to the public debate, which is why the criticisms, published this week by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee in its Communicating Climate Science report, are so important.
The BBC has some of the best science and environment correspondents in the world, but its coverage of climate issues is being hampered by extremely woolly thinking among editors and senior managers.
In his testimony to the committee last year, David Jordan, the BBC's director of editorial policy and standards, revealed that the corporation's management had decided to disregard a warning about the dangers of giving too much airtime and space to climate change sceptics, which was contained in a report for the BBC Trust by the geneticist Steve Jones.
Extraordinarily, Jordan also recalled long meetings about the BBC's coverage of climate change with politicians Peter Lilley and Nigel Lawson, both known for their scepticism. He made no mention of any meetings with scientists.
The lobbying campaign by sceptics has clearly had an impact. The result has been a continued betrayal of the public interest. The BBC has frequently sacrificed accuracy in favour of a muddled notion of impartiality
by broadcasting inaccurate and misleading statements from sceptics.
What is clear is that the BBC is harming the public interest by sacrificing accuracy for impartiality in its coverage of climate change. It should use the committee's report as an opportunity to correct its flawed approach and so improve its service to the public.
And from the link inside the quote:BBC impartiality between scientific facts and 'sceptic' fictions
The interviews on ‘Today’ and ‘Newsnight’ created multiple breaches of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines which require “due accuracy” and state:
“Where appropriate to the output, we should:
gather material using first hand sources wherever possible
check and cross check facts
validate the authenticity of documentary evidence and digital material
corroborate claims and allegations made by contributors wherever possible.”
The Guidelines also state: “In news and current affairs content, achieving due accuracy is more important than speed”.
As an analogy, the BBC's position is like presenting Young Earth Creationism as if it was a scientifically viable alternative to standard physics. It's pretty piss poor.