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The Vancouver Sun’s Op-ed Denying a Climate Crisis a Symbol of Wider Journalistic Malpractice

The Vancouver Sun’s Op-ed Denying a Climate Crisis a Symbol of Wider Journalistic Malpractice

A journalist’s role is to seek truth, especially in the face of an emergency. But the media is not doing its job.

BC wildfire
‘By publishing op-eds such as this, their newspaper isn’t serving the truth. It is polluting the public square by propagating what the best science tells us are untruths about the most pressing problem of our age.’ Photo BC Wildfire Service.

So I was disappointed when that misery coincided with the Vancouver Sun’s publication of an op-ed column by University of Guelph economics professor Ross McKitrick claiming we only have a “vague inkling” that we “might” be in a climate emergency a “decade from now.”

That comment may surprise some readers of the Sun, which has a storied past and was the most-read newspaper in Western Canada according to the most recent report from News Media Canada. After all, many of them have already experienced that emergency as a result of the climate change-fuelled wildfires which devastated British Columbia in 2017 and 2018, cloaking the Lower Mainland in smoke. It may also surprise readers who have seen this summer’s satellite images of the Arctic on fire.

And it would almost certainly surprise the scientists who authored three major peer-reviewed studies on climate change that were published a day after McKitrick’s column. Commenting on those studies for the CBC, climatologist Gavin Schmidt said they underline the fact the global heating we are seeing is “unusual in a multi-centennial context” and that we are to blame for it.

In fact, we have much more than a “vague inkling” that there is a climate emergency given the voluminous scientific research and observable evidence supporting that conclusion. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

‘Climate Crisis’ Open Letter to Media: Who’s Responded (So Far)

‘Climate Crisis’ Open Letter to Media: Who’s Responded (So Far)

Five-point plan on Tyee finds allies in CWA union and top US journos.

SeanHolman.JPG
Journalism prof Sean Holman fired off to Canada’s news orgs a public challenge to better cover the climate crisis. Who got back? Photo by Laura Balanko-Dickson.

Now the responses are rolling in, some from beyond Canada’s borders. 

Here’s how Holman came to write the widely shared letter and what it’s helping to trigger.

As record wildfires raged out of control across B.C., spreading smoke into the Rockies and Alberta, Holman looked out the window of his Calgary home and thought about a book he’d read as a child. The World of the Future: Future Cities predicted “if drastic steps are not taken to control pollution and achieve some sort of ecological balance,” the city of the 21st century could become a “polluted pesthole.” 

The book’s image of gas-mask-wearing citizens in a dystopian streetscape choked by smog “always stuck with me,” Holman said. The view of smoke turning the sun into a sickly orange dot was strikingly similar. “That was really troubling.” The Tyee is supported by readers like you Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Even more disturbing to Holman, though, was the failure of Canadian news media to accurately report the underlying reasons for this hellscape: the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming Canada twice as fast as the rest of the world.

Holman, an investigative reporter, associate professor of journalism at Mount Royal University and an occasional Tyee contributor, found that of the 182 media pieces produced about the wildfires last summer by outlets like the Calgary Herald and Vancouver Sun, only 14 of those pieces mentioned the scientific reality that global temperature rise caused by the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities contributed to the fires’ unprecedented intensity and destruction.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dear Journalists of Canada: Start Reporting Climate Change as an Emergency

Dear Journalists of Canada: Start Reporting Climate Change as an Emergency

A five-point plan for mainstream media to cover fewer Royal babies and a lot more of our unfolding global catastrophe.

Gustafson-Fire.jpg
Few media stories mentioned the demonstrable connection between the climate crisis and increasing wildfire activity in BC last summer, even though it was one of the major reasons why that season was the worst on record. Photo via the BC Wildfire Service.

To:
Karyn Pugliese, president, Canadian Association of Journalists
Martin O’Hanlon, president, CWA Canada
Fiona Conway, president, Radio Television Digital News Association
John Hinds, president and chief executive officer, News Media Canada
Jerry Dias, national president, Unifor

Cc:
Canada’s editors, news directors, publishers and station managers

On May 6, the United Nations released a scientific report warning that around a million species are threatened with extinction due to human activity, including climate change. But, according to an analysis by Media Matters for America, on the day of that release, the nightly newscasts of ABC and NBC felt it was more important that their audiences learned about the birth of the newest Royal baby — someone who will likely never have any say over their day-to-day lives. And I’ve found most of Canada’s 15 most-read English language daily broadsheets felt the same way.

Between May 6 and 7, 13 of those newspapers failed to front stories about the United Nations’ devastating finding. Instead, the National Post ran a story about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son, with 10 others teasing that birth on their front pages. Eight of the teasers were placed above-the-fold, next to a photograph, or both — drawing reader attention to pictures of Harry, Meghan and their beaming well-wishers.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Throwing Money at Media Won’t Fix Canada’s News Deficit

Throwing Money at Media Won’t Fix Canada’s News Deficit

We need to reform government so citizens have a reason to care, and slash secrecy that prevents journalists from doing their jobs.

ManReadingNewspaperBW.jpg
More Canadians knew the last name of Russia’s prime minister than knew the name of their own premier. Does that sound like an audience clamouring for more news? Photo by Nicolas Alejandro, Creative Commons license CC BY 2.0.

But as one of this country’s digital journalism pioneers (I founded a popular online investigative news site called Public Eye before such ventures became fashionable), I believe those woes may have as much to do with whether Canadians actually want news about their own country, and whether newsrooms have not just the resources, but also the willingness, to produce such stories. 

And unless we treat those afflictions, no amount of money will turn our news industry around.

In fairness to the politicians and bureaucrats who decided to dole out $595 million over five years to support Canadian journalism, many of their potential beneficiaries are also convinced that the bottom line in solving the country’s news media crisis can be found in their own bottom lines.

For example, two years ago, Public Policy Forum president Edward Greenspon, the former editor-in-chief of the Globe and Mail, released a government-contracted study called The Shattered Mirror.

It stated that “journalism’s economic model has collapsed, profoundly and structurally.” As a result, it recommended government measures to “strengthen the economic sustainability” of the news media and “promote civic-function journalism and digital innovations.” 

That’s fine, as far as it goes.

But there often seems to be an assumption that Canadians actually want public interest news about our country, in other words news about economic, environmental, health, political and social issues taking place within its borders.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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