DeSmog team has gone off to rub shoulders with (mostly) American reporters and editors, and the experience has offered an interesting view of the state of the climate conversation in the media.
In September, we attended the National Conference of Editorial Writers Annual convention in Pittsburgh, and we were greeted with a mix of tolerance and suspicion. It’s clear the editorial writers don’t want to be “spun” on this issue – and many were just as worried about us in that regard as they were about the Competitive Enterprise Institute or the Heartland Institute reps also in attendance.
That skepticism is healthy – if only it was accompanied by a willingness to do a little reading on the subject of climate change. Absent that willingness – absent a commitment to inform themselves on the subject – the editors too often wind up quoting one opinion from column ‘A’ (i.e., science) and one from column ‘B’ (ExxonMobil-funded denial) – which is all the spinners could ever want.
Per the recent coverage, we spent this past weekend with the Society of Environmental Journalists, where our reception was considerably warmer (even though United Airlines and US Airways conspired to send our trade booth to Philadelphia for the length of the conference). We didn’t have to spend any time explaining the misuse of “balance” in this crowd; they were already explaining it to one another.
Mind you, they also spent a fair amount of time talking about the difficulty of getting their papers or radio/TV stations to give any prominence to environment stories. Still, I think it’s fair to say that we left this conference a little more optimistic – a little more convinced that the media is moving, that an increasing number of reporters have done the work and truly “get” the importance of the climate change story.
Let’s hope it’s so.