Posts tagged credibility

Milloy and other aggressive deniers practice a form of asymmetric warfare that is decentralized and largely immune to reasoned response. They launch what Aaron Huertas, a press secretary at the Union of Concerned Scientists, calls “information missiles,” anti-climate-change memes that get passed around on listservs, amplified in the blogosphere, and picked up by radio talk-show hosts or politicians. “Even if they don’t have much money, they are operating in a structure that allows them to punch above their weight,” Huertas says.

Tom Clynes’ takes an in-depth look at The Battle over Climate Science, a gravely overlooked issue. 98% of actively publishing climate scientists now say that it is undeniable, he explains, though disputes over the finer points remain unsettled. More shocking is Clynes’ exposition of the routine death threats, hate mail, harassment, lawsuits, and political attacks faced by these climate scientists. 

FJP: There are two important journalism takeaways from this story. One is this asymmetric warfare that deniers use to attack climate scientists and their findings, which, because they are designed to be passed around the web, are quickly picked up by politicians and journalists. The second is that journalists continue to rely on non-scientists for their reporting on the issue, which severely skews public opinion.

via popsci:

"Multiple feet of sea level rising in the next few decades, that’s just fantasy,” says Myron Ebell, the director of energy and global-warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank. Ebell is in a taxi heading down K Street, Washington’s lobbyist row, talking to a reporter from theNaples Daily Newsin Florida. The journalist called to get his perspective on a new scientific study that warns of more frequent flooding along U.S. coastlines as higher temperatures accelerate rising sea levels. “The evidence is inconclusive,” Ebell says. “The [Antarctic] ice sheet is not shrinking but may in fact be expanding. The reality from the experts is … ”

Ebell does not claim to be a scientist. His background is in economics, and like Milloy, he was a member of the American Petroleum Institute task force in 1998. Yet his lack of scientific credentials has not deterred a stream of journalists from requesting his opinion of the newly released study. “Happens every time I get quoted in theNew York Times,” he says. Ebell provides two things most scientists can’t: a skeptical view of climate science and clear, compelling sound bites ready for the evening news or the morning paper. For a deadline-pressured journalist covering “both sides” of a complex issue, Ebell might seem an ideal source. Yet by including unscientific opinions alongside scientific ones, that same journalist creates an illusion of equivalence that can tilt public opinion.

“It’s that false balance thing,” Mann says. “You’re a reporter and you understand there’s an overwhelming consensus that evidence supports a particular hypothesis—let’s say, the Earth is an oblate spheroid. But you’ve got to get a comment from a holdout at the Flat Earth Society. People see the story and think there’s a serious scientific debate about the shape of the Earth.”

Click-through the read the whole piece.

Information Credibility on Twitter

Platform matters, according to Yahoo researchers.

In the experiment, the headline of a news item was presented to users in different ways, i.e. as posted in a traditional media website, as a blog, and as a post on Twitter. Users found the same news headline significantly less credible when presented on Twitter.

Interested in further Twitter analysis? The researchers point to Truthy, a project at the Indiana University that further analyzes Twitter and its credibility.

The Staging of a Photo-Op
While not iconic like the Situation Room photograph released by the White House that’s now being memed, images of Barack Obama at the lectern announcing the Osama Bin Laden mission got their fare share of play in newspapers, magazines and Web sites.
But those images are staged. Take it away Jason Reed:

As President Obama continued his nine-minute address in front of just one main network camera, the photographers were held outside the room by staff and asked to remain completely silent. Once Obama was off the air, we were escorted in front of that teleprompter and the President then re-enacted the walk-out and first 30 seconds of the statement for us.

As Poynter notes, this practice isn’t new. It apparently happens all the time and is something to consider as we decide whether what we’re looking at is documentary or agitprop.
Via Poynter’s Al Tompkins:

Other photographers who work at the White House told Poynter.org that since the Reagan era (and possibly before) it has been the standard operating procedure that during a live presidential address, still cameras are not allowed to photograph the actual event…
…But this practice of re-enacting a historic speech flies directly in the face of the National Press Photographers Association Code of Ethics, which includes this relevant passage: “Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.”

Aside: About that meme? Personal fav. — Michael

The Staging of a Photo-Op

While not iconic like the Situation Room photograph released by the White House that’s now being memed, images of Barack Obama at the lectern announcing the Osama Bin Laden mission got their fare share of play in newspapers, magazines and Web sites.

But those images are staged. Take it away Jason Reed:

As President Obama continued his nine-minute address in front of just one main network camera, the photographers were held outside the room by staff and asked to remain completely silent. Once Obama was off the air, we were escorted in front of that teleprompter and the President then re-enacted the walk-out and first 30 seconds of the statement for us.

As Poynter notes, this practice isn’t new. It apparently happens all the time and is something to consider as we decide whether what we’re looking at is documentary or agitprop.

Via Poynter’s Al Tompkins:

Other photographers who work at the White House told Poynter.org that since the Reagan era (and possibly before) it has been the standard operating procedure that during a live presidential address, still cameras are not allowed to photograph the actual event…

…But this practice of re-enacting a historic speech flies directly in the face of the National Press Photographers Association Code of Ethics, which includes this relevant passage: “Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.”

Aside: About that meme? Personal fav. — Michael

With Friends Like These

Via TalkingPointsMemo:

A study released this week finds that Fox News viewers are the most misinformed of any news consumers.

The University of Maryland study, called “Misinformation and the 2010 Election,” looked at “variations in misinformation by exposure to news sources,” among other things, and specifically newspapers and news magazines (in print and online), network TV news broadcasts, NPR and PBS, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN.

TPM lists the specifics in their article.

The full report is available via WorldPublicOpinion.org (PDF).