The journalism problem

Much has recently been written on various climate blogs about the problem with journalism.

But I think this is the crux of the issue:

Passive news reporting that doesn’t attempt to resolve factual disputes in politics may have detrimental effects on readers, new research suggests.

The study found that people are more likely to doubt their own ability to determine the truth in politics after reading an article that simply lists competing claims without offering any idea of which side is right.

“There are consequences to journalism that just reports what each side says with no fact checking,” said Raymond Pingree, author of the study and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University.

“It makes readers feel like they can’t figure out what the truth is. And I would speculate that this attitude may lead people to tune out politics entirely, or to be more accepting of dishonesty by politicians.”

The study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Communication.

Most people aren’t ideologically bent on denialism, after all many conservatives truly care about the environment. They, like the rest of us, are forced to live in it. But few people have the nessasary background knowledge to separate fact from fiction in complex issues like global warming.

So is it any surprise that when people are confronted with news pieces that give equal time to mainstream science, as they do to pseudoscience, that the general public walks away feeling confused?

We all deserve better than this type of  ’passive journalism’. Especially on topics where the science is abundantly clear.

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