The BBC vs. FOX, NBC, ABC, et al

Well, well, well . . . Fancy this!

The BBC Trust (it is what it sounds like) periodically reviews (since 2010) the scope and content of its science reporting. They put it this way:

“Scientific developments have the capacity to directly affect us all significantly. Debates relating to everything from climate change to medical advances to DNA technology feature prominently in our public discourse. And ethical, policy and funding questions associated with science arouse strong emotions. As a consequence they often strike at the core of sensitive editorial issues. So it is vital that the BBC’s audience enjoys science coverage of the very highest standards.”

Read again that last sentence and try to imagine such a standard being applied to Fox, ABC, CNN, etc.

The BBC also strongly recommends its science reporters attend seminars organized by the world’s leading scientists, researchers, and science writers. The point in attending is to be able to separate fact-based reporting from the sort of garbage swung hither and yon by US media outlets, especially television.

“License fee payers expect the BBC to meet the highest standards of impartiality and accuracy. That applies as much to science as it does to the world of politics and policy . . . The UK is a world leader in science and part of the BBC’s function must be to keep the public informed of advances in scientific thinking and about the ethical and policy dilemmas posed by scientific research. . . .” (emphasis added)

The idea of seeking “balance” in reporting the impending multiple crises connected to anthropogenic climate disruption is especially singled out as an example of providing the right-wing climate deniers a forum for their ignorance when none should be provided. Then there’s the section of the report that shows definitively the difference between US reporting on science issues – notably, climate disruption – and that of the BBC:

“The coverage of science by the BBC continues to be a hotly debated issue. One of the key findings of the report is there is at times an . . . . . ‘over-‘rigid’ application of the Editorial Guidelines on impartiality in relation to science coverage, which fails to take into account what (is regarded) as the ‘non-contentious’ nature of some stories and the need to avoid ‘undue attention to marginal opinion’. . . . the existence of man-made climate change is an example of this point.” (emphasis added)

Don’t we love the Brits and their proper way of saying that the scientifically illiterate – climate change deniers being in the forefront currently – should simply be denied any sort of podium or credibility where it concerns science in general and something as specifically in need of focus and direct action as climate change.

In other words – if I may use Malloy-style American profanity – the climate deniers should shut the fuck up and go back to their religious superstitions and tales of fantasy. The fate of the human race is too important to be sidetracked into listening to their bullshit.

– MM

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This article has 4 comments

  1. Denny NNWofLA

    Gee- how could I tell that Mike wrote this piece…

    By the time I read down to the part where the BBC was urging
    their science reporters to seminars conducted by SCIENTISTS,
    the voice in my head was screaming, So should our members of
    congress!

  2. kath

    One thing I love about the “Fair and Balanced” faux theme meme is that it sounds so much like “Fare: Unbalanced” which is actually the truth! And unless I’m misremembering, I first saw/heard that sort of fake counterargument on that self-important overly loquacious William F. Buckley show on PBS, decades ago. I despised his weasley tactics, using relatively obscure words in complex sentences to silence the opposition.

    You can imagine how I despaired over the years, until I finally heard you, Mike. I thought I was surely an alien as the media deteriorated to, well, plain ol’ shit, but not even shit worthy of garden fertilizer. While I may actually BE an alien, at least I’ve found a kindred soul whose wisdom (and rage) resonates with my mindset.

    TYVM! xoxo

  3. skeeter

    I could be wrong, and someone from the UK would have to verify this, but it seems like there’s still a concept of shame over there. (Also in Canada and probably Australia, as well – it’s the impression I get anyway.)

    Whatever else is going on (and I know people in the UK are experiencing a lot of the same awful economic policies as we are here)… at least public officials (pundits, etc.) can still be shamed and embarrassed.

    Here, shameful behavior and speech have become a badge of honor. I.e., frothing-at-the-mouth religious bigots are proud of their anti-science views, and the carnival barkers and assclowns in the media, and many politicians, are more than happy to accommodate them and egg them on.

    So I completely agree, I can’t imagine our networks implementing a policy like the BBC’s. Our networks are all about bread and circuses and profits these days, not truth. Not science. And certainly not high standards.

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