Climate Change Censorship

A lot has been written about the Listener’s dumping of “Ecologic” columnist Dave Hansford and whether it was linked to a complaint by Bryan Leyland – a prominent sceptic.

John Drinnan covers it in the Herald.

But Listener editor Stirling is insisting that the two events are unconnected and that she is losing a staffer because of budget cuts.

Wellington freelance journalist Dave Hansford has been the ecological columnist since November.

He has had differences of opinion with Stirling during much of that time and on occasion was asked to changed the tone of the column.

Hansford would not be the only staffer who has had differences of opinion with the Editor.

Stirling says Hansford was only ever hired as a short-term position for two months and the column was now being written by a staffer.

But it’s clear that Stirling’s approach to the eco-column – like her approach to the Listener – has been a lot more right of centre than the line of the old days.

Stirling took over in 2004 and she says that for a long time the Listener had been the house journal of the Alliance Party.

Stirling says the magazine is more centrist and allows everyone to express a view.

It was indeed the Alliance house journal. not that I had a problem with that – if enough people want to buy as a left wing magazine, good on them. And if enough want to buy it as a centrist magazine also good on them.

Poneke blogs on the issue also. Likewise Russell Brown. And the issue was first raised on the very good Hot Topic blog.

Meanwhile in Australia they have the opposite issue with Earth Day. The Melbourne Age is known to be a very left wing paper. I doubt more than 5% of their journalists vote Liberal/National. But even they have protested about the editor forcing them to write supportive material for Earth Day. Read this story in The Australian:

In a statement accompanying the resolution, staff said the Earth Hour partnership placed basic journalistic principles in jeopardy: “Reporters were pressured not to write negative stories and story topics followed a schedule drafted by Earth Hour organisers.”

Andrew Bolt points out:

In a statement of protest last week, 235 Age journalists confirmed that their coverage of last month’s Earth Hour had been, in effect, propaganda.

“Reporters were pressured not to write ‘negative’ stories and story topics followed a schedule drafted by Earth Hour organisers,” they said. 

That confession came after the ABC’s Media Watch released an embarrassing email sent by the green group WWF to Age editor-in-chief Andrew Jaspan under the creepy header Re: Any last requests?.

In it, WWF staffer Fiona Poletti replied she indeed had more requests, and told Jaspan to run three more puff pieces for Earth Hour, a stunt in which readers were told to help save the planet from global warming by turning off lights for an hour.

Here’s one: “We would love the fashion story to get a good run. This has been given to Orietta and is about the fashion industry’s unified support for Earth Hour.”

WWF ordered, Jaspan obeyed. dutifully ran that story, under the headline: “Fashionistas no dummies when it comes to be switching off.”

WWF’s request for a second story on businesses backing Earth Hour? Also obeyed. On cities around the world joining in? Obeyed. In each case Jaspan had journalists writing, albeit unwittingly, to a green group’s script.

Bolt also observes:

The joke is most Age journalists are so green they don’t need to be pushed to preach this gospel. But their bosses’ prodding changes everything.

What a reporter may freely write as news becomes propaganda if he or she is not free to report all the relevant facts. So all Age journalists writing about Earth Hour, or global warming, must for now be considered propagandists.

Too harsh? Then consider: after all that pushing of the green line by Age bosses, which staff writer would dare write that global warming in fact may have stalled, with oceans cooling and the planet not heating since 1998? Indeed, none has.

Which Age staffer would dare write that Earth Hour actually saved so little in greenhouse gases that just eight cars will make good those emissions in a year? Again, none has.

And finally Bolt uses his own situation as an example of how editorial independence should be preserved:

Responsible newspapers at least try to ensure their staff know they are still free to dissent and report inconvenient truths, which is why I’m still here, writing as I do, even after our boss last year said it was time to “give the planet the benefit of the doubt” with global warming.

Yep, that is how it should be.

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