Oreskes At Deutsche Welle’s Journalism For Dummkopfs Conference
Ulli Kulke of the German online Die Welt national newspaper has written a piece: How Sceptics Are To Be Converted. He reports on the recent Global Media Forum held by German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle dubbed “The Heat Is On – Climate Change and the Media”, see here for background and here. According to Kulke the real objective of the forum:
The media are to warn the public of the dangers of climate change even more effectively and powerfully than before, and of course to make it even more clear that it’s the fault of man.
One well-attended workshop was: How To Deal With Climate Scepticism. Its own stated objective:
This workshop aims to point out what journalists must know about climate change policy, whom to trust and when to question their own professional procedures.
Falling back on a “neutral” journalistic position can mean playing into the hands of the skeptics at the expense of the basis of life.
According to the workshop’s moderator, Bernhard Pötter of the newspaper Tageszeitung,
For journalists, climate change is the most important topic of the 21st century.
The “How To Deal With Climate Scepticism” workshop was designed to provide assistance to frustrated editors, authors and other journalists on how to best deal with the unwanted confrontation with a climate sceptic.
One notable speaker at the workshop was Naomi Oreskes, who, according to Kulke, requests journalists eliminate the use of the word “scepticism” from their reporting. Kulke reports on Oreskes:
‘Scepticism” is too positive, and is indeed even a virtue in science. It’s better to use the word “contrarian’, which one can translate as ‘adversary’ or ‘dissenter’, says Oreskes. “Also it’s a no-no to use the term climate debate’.
‘It’s no wonder,’ complained Oreskes, ‘that people think science is still debating climate change when everywhere in newspapers one reads about a ‘debate’. Debate has long been in the history books. Climate change is a scientifically proven fact.’ It’s important for journalists to stress that the debate is over.
Ulli Kulke wonders what newspapers Oreskes could be possibly reading out in California, which would lead her to conclude the press is playing down climate change. Kulke writes:
In the years leading up to and after the last IPCC assessment report in 2007, the press and television reported daily on the coming end of the world in America and Europe.
But this has changed over the last half-year. Inconsistencies, cover-ups, big blunders and, most of all, exaggerations by climate scientists have been exposed. Some have admitted their errors. Even plots by scientists against their sceptic colleagues came to light. As a result the media have toned down their alarmism a little. And one even gets the impression that, since Climategate, journalistic principles have made a comeback. But some people have got a problem with that.
Much to her chagrin, parts of the German press, such as Ulli Kulke, are not ready to abandon the principles of journalism. That’s good news.
Expect scepticism contrarianism to grow in Europe.