News values was an issue I lightly toughed on in my previous post. One news value is the balance of a story. They say there are always two sides to a story, this means journalists usually report 50/50 for each side of the story. But what if the story has been factually proven to the point where over 90% of scientists have stated that climate change is largely caused by humans? Do journalists still give 50% of screen time and news columns to unproven theories voiced by unqualified people?
In my opinion, they should not, but they do. Even though the climate change debate is no longer a debate, the media continue to push the idea that there are still countless people who say that climate change is not aided by humans. This is known as a false balance, where journalists give two sides to a one sided story to sensationalise events. This gives the audience a false impression that climate change is not only debatable but is a matter of opinion and not science.
Factual reporting of important issues, including climate change, is vital for educating audiences. The incredible impact of how the media report on issues can be seen in Australia with the election of a Prime Minister that does not believe climate change is caused by humans, dubbing human produced carbon “an invisible substance“. Global scientific debate about whether climate change was said to be over with the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report. In Australia this is still not the case with former Media Watch host Jonathan Holmes saying in regard to The Australian‘s reporting on climate change
“…The Australian gives prominence to the small number of scientists who dissent from the view that global warming is being caused by human activity; and down play or ignore the publications – and the warnings – of the scientists who do. Quite simply, The Australian is misreporting the true scientific debate.” (2013).