Accuracy in Media

It might be a little late to be asking the modern media to read their own articles but Vice manages to contradict itself in the course of the one single piece.

The background discusses climate change and extreme weather events. That’s not quite the point here that we wish to address although as background we suppose we better had. It’s an article of faith currently that climate change will lead to more droughts, tornadoes, hurricanes and so on.

There’s remarkably little evidence of this, however. Once we adjust for the known and obvious increase in our ability to recognize hurricanes forming out at sea as a result of satellites and so on then the number of them seems to be declining by the decade. Not rising as the world warms and that vengeance descends upon us.

But that isn’t our point today, the realities of climate change aren’t the issue here. Rather, the hope that we could get media outlets to actually read their own articles before publishing them. For here is Vice:

“Environmental advocates say it’s too late to still be asking whether these freak storms are caused by climate change and whether cutting carbon emissions really would help stop, if not reverse, this deadly trend.”

That’s probably rather an important question to ask.

“But these scenes are regular fare for Filipinos already used to seeing some 20 typhoons each year.”

Sure, we don’t want anyone to be swept away by storms. But it’s this: “But it’s only our 15th storm this year, which is strange,” he said. “The Philippines usually counts its 20th typhoon for the year by December.”

The evidence on offer is that there are fewer storms hitting the Philippines. Yet this is taken as proof that we must all reduce climate change in order to reduce the number of storms that hit poor people who didn’t cause climate change by making emissions.

Vox is a major media outlet these days. The TV channel reaches 60 million US households, the magazine has a distribution of 900,000 copies. The website gains 10 million visits a month.

Is it possible, we wonder, that they could actually check their own articles for their internal logic? We don’t think it’s too much to ask that evidence of fewer storms be used as an argument that something is going right rather than wrong after all.




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