Return to Website

Number Watch Web Forum

This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.

Number Watch Web Forum
Start a New Topic 
View Entire Thread
Re: Booker the Lone Ranger

I prefer the sobriquet Fiends of the Earth!

Re: Booker the Lone Ranger

It's all very well to sing the praises of journalists like Booker, Rose and Delingpole. But I've always thought that the UK AGW sceptic and Green sceptic community is a bit too tolerant of the bias that is strongly present in UK environmental journalism (with the notable exception that the BBC's biased environmental journalism has been much less tolerated, presumably because of the nature of the BBC's funding arrangements). If there was less tolerance of biased environmental journalism, then we might not have to depend so much on Booker and his ilk.

To understand the direction I'm coming from, consider this article about the bias in US environmental journalism written back in 2002, describing an enlightened situation that I think we have yet to achieve in the UK:


"“Greens with press passes.”

Robert Engelman was the first person I heard utter these words. He used them as a way of conveying how he thought he and his environment reporting peers were regarded. A founding member of the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ), he was at that time an environmental and health correspondent for the Scripps Howard News Service in Washington, D.C.

Those four words sum up the view—and for many environmental journalists the nagging frustration—that reporters covering the environmental beat often are seen not as environmental reporters but as environmentalist reporters. Is it something they said that earned them such a derisive nickname? Or something they did? Or perhaps something they didn’t say or didn’t do?

Though causes remain undetermined, this perception has become an occupational hazard. And it’s a perception the most dedicated U.S. journalists—swearing allegiance to the practice of independent journalism, not to environmental values per se—find particularly annoying. Especially frustrating to many is that this view often persists in the newsroom itself, not just outside of it. Being labeled a “green reporter” by a newsroom colleague is for many an insult. Plain and simple.

“There’s a perception of bias in the newsroom that seems to be unique to the environmental beat,” one environmental reporter recently complained at the annual meeting of the SEJ in Baltimore, Maryland. No such perception had tainted her previous work on health or other beats, she insisted."

Most UK AGW sceptics would I think regard UK environmental journalists as fitting the above description of being "Greens with press passes". In the case of the Guardian's environmental journalists, you could even go further and possibly describe them as being "Green party parliamentary candidates in waiting". But I don't think that perception exists in the country as a whole. I get the impression that UK politicians and newspaper editors see UK environmental journalists as being no more particularly biased than any other journalist. There's even a tendency in the UK for environmental journalism to be seen as being closely related to science journalism, for example the BBC's science news webpage is actually called the "science and Environment news" webpage.

Bised environmental journalism has in my opinion done a lot more damage to the UK than celebrity phone hacking, given such things as only four MPs voting against the introduction of the Climate Change Act. I am probably one of only a few people in the UK whose opinion of the UK mainstream media actually went up as a result of the phone hacking scandal. Previously I assumed the tabloid mainstream media was probably making most of that stuff up, I didn't realise what lengths they were going to in order to provide us with accurate celebrity gossip.

Re: Booker the Lone Ranger

I think you have a good point, one I hadn't considered.

Most "celebs" probably delight in the old saw that there is no such thing as bad publicity.
And even bad publicity could be denied as being something "made up" by the journalists. Indeed, the cry we often hear is that "everyone knows" that journalists will make up stuff just to sell papers.

The real impact of the phone hacking scandal might well have been that "celebs" suddenly lost their deniability for the bad stupid or reprehensible stuff reported of them. They may actually have done and said all those bad things after all and they weren't actually made up after all.

Re: Booker the Lone Ranger

It looks like a fairly substantial problem may be emerging in the long-time practice by many AGW sceptics of linking to Booker's Daily Telegraph articles. The Telegraph seems to have adopted a semi-paywall system where you are only allowed to view 20 articles for free each month, and after that you have to subscribe or at least take up a limited free trial. A few days ago I reached my limit of 20 free to view Telegraph articles for the month.

From what I can see, the 20 free to view articles limit is applying to Booker, but not Delingpole. The difference seems to be that Booker is a 'columnist' whereas Delingpole is categorised as a 'blogger'. Presumably the Telegraph's bloggers are not included in the semi-paywall arrangement as the idea behind newspaper blogs is to compete with the general internet blogger.

Re: Booker the Lone Ranger

In regard to the Telegraph's semi-paywall arrangement, it does look like it is pretty easy for a technically-minded person to get round it. In an Opera browser which I use, there is a feature called "Cookie Manager", and using this you can delete cookies associated with the Daily Telegraph website which then allows you to view another 20 articles for free, with the process being repeated as required. The simplest method, which a non-technical person might adopt, is to start using another internet browser after you have clocked up 20 free articles on your main browser, as the tracking cookies are browser-specific.