Balance as Bias
Balance as Bias
How the Media Missed “The Story of the Century”
This chapter argues that American media have been complicit in the two-decades-long success of the denial of global warming. That the media have failed is a fact established by scholarly research. In 2004, researchers tested the premise that press coverage of global warming among national newspapers had misled the public. They concentrated on four leading national newspapers—the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal—searching databases for the phrase “global warming” in news stories appearing between 1980 and 2002. They concluded that “adherence to the norm of balanced reporting leads to informationally biased coverage of global warming. This bias, hidden behind the veil of journalistic balance, creates both discursive and real political space for the U.S. government to shirk responsibility and delay action regarding global warming.” The remainder of the chapter discusses how prestige newspapers give space to global warming denial; and other fields of science that suffer from media anti-science bias disguised as balance.
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