Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Aha! Global Climate Change and Media Mis-Representation

This article makes a point that I've heard about for years but that I hadn't yet taken the time to research to any significant degree. Specifically, this article "demonstrates that US prestige-press[1] coverage of global warming from 1988 to 2002 has contributed to a significant divergence of popular discourse from scientific discourse."

The above quote is from the article abstract. The rest of the abstract is written in academese:

This failed discursive translation results from an accumulation of tactical media responses and practices guided by widely accepted journalistic norms. Through content analysis of US prestige press . . . this paper focuses on the norm of balanced reporting, and shows that the prestige press’s adherence to balance actually leads to biased coverage of both anthropogenic contributions to global warming and resultant action.
The takeaway here his that these researchers have found evidence that the print media's top-of-the-food-chain has misrepresented scientific evidence on global climate change[2] to make it seem as if the issue is much more scientifically contentious than it is. What this means is that the general public does not have as complex or complete an understanding of climate science as it should have. This suggests to me that there are underlying political, religious, and economic factors at work here that override scientific evidence.

I'm not at all naïve enough not to understand the repercussions of Thomas Kuhn's work, nor the basic Marxian interpretation of the influence of capital on media systems. This said, it still strikes me as highly lamentable that the masses in the U.S. can be so easily manipulated, and that the media in this country tend to be so corrupt.[3]


[1] Meaning, in this case, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

[2] AKA "global warming." Don't get me started.

[3] Yes, I was just born yesterday.


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