BBC Trust Link
The article demonstrates clearly how the media operates today.
Management sets very clear editorial policies, in this case support for a presumed climate ‘consensus’ and directs all their journalists to favor the perspective they want promoted. Some balance may be provided to give the appearance of impartiality, but readers are always reminded what conclusions they should draw. That is why most people sense little difference between the editorial and ‘news’ pages of a newspaper in terms of bias. As to factual content, editorials are sometimes better than news stories, because they are less formula driven and don’t pretend a mythical fairness.
How should the media cover science? First of all, they need to understand a little about it, enough to realize that claims of a ‘consensus’ are completely bogus. The earth is believed round, not because a consensus of scientists says so (or the National Academy of Sciences certifies it as such) but because we can present logic and evidence to prove it. For instance, we might show photos of the earth taken from the moon.
Quite frequently a majority of scientists have been terribly wrong and tried to enforce their views through intimidation of skeptics. When two medical researchers proposed a new theory that ulcers were caused by a bacterium, they were heavily ridiculed by their peers who preferred the older “stress theory.” When these researchers isolated the bacterium and demonstrated its disease potential, opposition melted away, and the researchers were appropriately awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine. In clear recognition of the very bad behavior of their peers, the Nobel Committee noted the unwarranted and inappropriate opposition they had faced. Responsible news coverage of their efforts would have looked for the all important logic and evidence and avoided the endless attacks from those defending the older ideas. It might also have considered why some scientists vigorously resist new ideas. They have a lot invested in the status quo.
The media does not need a detailed understanding of the science they report (although that certainly would not hurt) but at the very least an understanding that ALL science flows from logic and evidence. Every great scientist has realized that “the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual,” to quote Galileo. It is a pity that very, very few journalists are sufficiently literate in science to recognize this most elementary aspect of science.