Press Shortcomings On Environmental Reporting

A recent paper by Eric Pooley, a fellow at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard entitled How Much Would You Pay to Save the Planet? The American Press and the Economics of Climate Change makes the case that the press equated a false moral equivalence between the arguments of supporters and opponents of climate change legislation. This false premise served to bolster the arguments of anti-climate change forces, arguments that more in-depth reporting and a better understanding of economics and science ought to have debunked.

As a summary of the paper states:

Pooley concluded that the press misrepresented the economic debate over carbon cap and trade, failed to perform the basic service of making climate policy and its economic impact understandable to the reader, and allowed opponents of climate action to set the terms of the cost debate. He also concluded that editors had failed to devote sufficient resources to the climate story, shoving it into the “environment” pigeonhole.

I find this interesting, since the local press played a similar role in the long running debate over the construction of sewage treatment plants and the treatment of storm and sewage overflows into Onondaga Creek with toxic chlorine at Midland Ave. and in Armory Square.

The newspapers, radio and television never challenged the assertions of the Pirro administration on the true costs of construction or on the health concerns of the outdated technology. The cost overruns of the project and the subsequent scuttling of the Armory Square project by the incoming Mahoney administration in favor of an investigation of greener technologies proved the neighborhood activists correct. By extension, Pirro and his county henchmen were proven wrong.

But you’d never know that if you just followed the story in the press.


3 thoughts on “Press Shortcomings On Environmental Reporting

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  1. I agree that the press needs to pay more attention to climate/global warming issues. I recently spoke with Bud Ward, an environmental reporter with the Yale Forum on Climate Change, and he agreed. He told me about a report that was released on Jan. 27 saying the climate change is irreversible, but that it received little coverage from the press. You can check out myblog, I posted on the report.


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