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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Joseph Romm gives Citizen Kane Award to 10 worst in climate science journalism

And the 2009 “Citizen Kane” award for non-excellence in climate journalism goes to …

Citizen Kane

by Joseph Romm, Climate Progress, December 22, 2009

Okay, I think it’s pretty obvious to regular Climate Progress readers who the winner is.  Indeed, I was originally going to ask readers to vote on the winner from the top 10 list below — but it’d be like asking readers to vote for which major sports figure fell from grace farthest this year.  As always, though, I welcome your thoughts on the “winners” and any omissions.

I do a lot of media criticism, so I thought I would end the year with an award for the major media outlet and/or reporter who has moved furthest from journalistic excellence.  Next year I might name the award after this year’s winner, but for now, it’ll be named after Citizen Kane’s “Declaration of Principles,” which publisher Charles Foster Kane idealistically enunciated early on in the film classic, but later on “Without reading it, Kane tears it up, throws it into the wastebasket at his side.”  And no, I’m not including any of the “new media” in the list because none of them has even one-tenth the impact of any of the major media outlets on this list nor do most of them claim to be journalists.

And yes the entire media deserves a dishonorable mention for its generally poor coverage of climate science, politics, and economics this year:
Skipping the musical number I had prepared for the awards ceremony, let’s dive straight into the top ten list:

10.  Nicholas Dawidoff, the author of the NYT magazine cover profile on Freeman Dyson — not just because the piece was deeply flawed (the media does bad profiles all the time) but because the author apparently didn’t care:
9.  Fox News — just because they are dreadful on every subject doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be on this list:
8.  NYT’s John Tierney — the main reason he isn’t higher is that I’m not certain many people take him very seriously and his output level in print is on the low side (the second bullet below is actually from 12/26/08):
7.  David Broder — uninterested in the gravest problem of our time (except, that is, when he writes nonsense about it), and more interested in quick decisions, than right ones:
6.  Rush Limbaugh — a buffoon, yes, but his remarks in this case are far beyond the pale even for his brand of extremism:
5.  Newsweek — they win a special award for the single worst story of the year, and make the top 5 here because it turns out they’ve been selling access to the subjects of that story:
4.  Andy Revkin — ’nuff said:
3.  The New York Times — the so-called paper of record publishees Dawidoff and Revkin and Tierney and much, much more that is inexplicable:
2 & 1.  George Will and the editors of the Washington Post.  The two are, sadly, almost inseparable.  Will is #2 for his disinformation dysentery.  The Washington Post’s senior editors are, easily, the winner of Climate Progress’s first annual Citizen Kane award for giving George Will an un-fact-checked platform again and again (while making a travesty of their letters to the editor) — as well as Lomborg and Palin and many, many others.  On the climate issue, the Washington Post editors have, shamefully, abandoned journalism:
UPDATE:  One final note.  I am not comparing Broder and Revkin with Will and Limbaugh here, or the New York Times with Fox News.  That would be comparing apples and oranges or perhaps airplanes and oranges.  Individual rankings are based solely on an individual curve compared to where these outlets/journalists aspire.  It is precisely because the New York Times aspires much higher than everyone else, to be the so-called paper of record, that its myriad failings — despite much outstanding coverage and an excellent editorial/opinion page — give it such a high rank.


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