Sunday, May 03, 2015

202.5 - Outrage of the Week: more media failures on global warming

Outrage of the Week: more media failures on global warming

Now for one of our regular features, the Outrage of the Week.

It starts with the observation that earlier this month there were protests on a number of college campuses, calling on those colleges and universities to divest (or disinvest) in fossil fuels as a means of pushing awareness of, and the immediate need to act on, global climate change

Among other places, there were protests at Yale, Tulane, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Mary Washington, in Fredericksville,Virginia, the University of Cincinnati, Bowdoin College in Maine, Swathmore, UCal-Berkeley, and Harvard - in fact there was a whole week of activities there.

Protest at UCal-Berkeley
So what is the outrage here? This is it: Did you know about any of that? Unless you were at one of the colleges or very local to it, of course you didn't!

Even at Harvard, with a whole week of demonstrations, marches, teach-ins, and sit-ins, virtually the only news coverage I could find in a web search was in the Harvard Crimson - the student paper. The Boston Globe, the big, self-important, major regional newspaper? Apart from a single reference in a "round-up" of "student-journalism in the Boston area" (which quoted the Crimson), not a single word.

These demonstrations, this whole series of demonstrations at campuses across the country, including everything from teach-ins to rallies to civil disobedience, they essentially were totally ignored by the national and even often by the local media. The whole "Divest" movement was subject to an almost total news blackout.

Which is perhaps not surprising considering that the major network news gets failing marks on climate change in general. A recent month-long study by FAIR - for Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting; it's a media watchdog group - that study of news coverage of California's now four-year long drought, one that a recent peer-reviewed study has specifically linked to global warming, that study turned up 56 stories on the evening network news about the drought - only six of which even mentioned climate change and those that did referred to the non-existent "controversy" about it.

It's also not surprising because the media story, the media meme, is and has been that student protest, well, since the Occupy movement - they would say faded away or was "replaced by other concerns" but I would say was crushed by federal and local government - but since the Occupy movement, well, student protest just doesn't happen any more.

So covering these actions would have meant challenging their own biases in two ways, so of course it didn't happen. It's another case of how we are uninformed, malinformed, and misinformed by our major media. And no matter how many times I have to say it, that is still an outrage.

Sources cited in links:

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