At the journalists podium at the Th!nk 2-launch event some of the participants were opposed to the idea of journalists taking a side when covering climate change. For example Gerald Traufetter of DER SPIEGEL argued that this would hurt a journalists credibility. Consequently he started bashing The Guardian’s approach of (more or less) campaining for action against climate change.
[ad#ad-1]Being a journalist myself, I was rather disappointed of hearing something like this from an editor of one of Europes most important magazines. In my opinion the task of a journalist actually absolutely IS to search for the truth and then take its side if one thinks he found it (which does not mean to stop thinking).
Of course I don’t expect a journalist to publish something that he considers wrong. And of course, there are many gray areas, where things are not quite clear and journalists need to accept that they don’t know the truth. Avoiding to inform readers about a legitimate option would be irresponsible in such cases.
But when it comes to climate change things are perfectly clear. If the
vastoverwhelming majority of todays (non-ideological!) scientific community says that climate change is man-made (at least to a certain degree), then this truth lies right in front of you, desperately waiting to be accepted and published.
You not only SHOULD take this stand, you have the responsibility to do so. What e.g. The Guardian does is nothing else than telling its readers something that the editors consider as the truth and consequently helping those readers to live with that truth. This is information and service that should be delivered by the media.
Think about the implications of prefering to keep an equidistance (which very often is mistaken for the concept of objectivity) from the opinion of a small group of climate „sceptics“ (whose motives very often can be legitimately doubted) on the one side and from almost everyone concerned with this topic on the other side. You would be certain to promote the untruth (or maybe even a lie).
Also, by doing that, you pay as much attention to something you (at least should) consider the truth as you do to something that is complete nonsense. Publishing nonsense is not part of the job description.
rom a marketing-perspective, it also does absolutely not help your credibility to avoid a standpoint. There is no shame in being wrong, when you did your best to prevent it. Actually it is not the journalist’s job to be more clever than the scientific community. It’s the job of the scientists. But on the other hand it IS shameful to promote the untruth just because of being to cowardly to promote your opinion in the first place.
This post is also published as part of the international Th!nk 2 blogging contest – feel free to comment on this topic there