Year 2, Month 5, Day 1: Teedledee Dee….

Reports the Duluth News Tribune, a local and well-regarded TV talking head has seen the light. Don Shelby figured out that climate change isn’t an ordinary news story. Speaking at a two-day sustainability fair at the University of Minnesota, he came clean about having promoted false equivalency and stenographic journalism on the subject for years.

Actually, he was pretty forthright. I can’t wait to read the comments.

The TV newsman’s mea culpa about having misreported climate change came after of years of treating the story the same as he would any other, requiring the views of two opposing parties, Shelby told the packed lecture hall of the chemistry building.

But, he said, climate change is not a pro or con issue; it’s a scientific fact. And journalists who work to “balance” a story present an inaccurate picture when they give equal weight to sources promulgating inaccurate facts.

“If I report a story on abuse of children, I don’t go out and interview an abuser on the up-side of child abuse,” he said as an example of how an effort to balance can go too far.

Sent April 23, and published a few days ago:

While it’s terrific news that a respected media personality has recognized the grave consequences of “false equivalence” in the media’s handling of climate change, there still are hundreds of journalists who haven’t come to their senses yet. Some of these reporters are overly credulous; some are overworked or lazy; the worst, however, have chosen to ignore the magnitude of the problem for the most venal of reasons. As Upton Sinclair put it, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” Rather than giving up a fraction of their mind-boggling profitability to help humanity make the transition to renewable energy sources, the fossil fuel industries find it cheaper to fund denialism in the media, obscuring the facts and fostering a political climate that supports the (highly remunerative) status quo. We need more Don Shelbys, and we need them soon.

Warren Senders

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