Media Bias and Climate Change

It’s no wonder that in the day and age that we live in, where we are bombarded with information every minute of our lives, clashing opinions and viewpoints can confuse and make us apathetic about a number of topics. The recent debate over the condition and future of our planet has experts from all sides presenting us with the ‘facts’ of the case, and how we should go about dealing with such an issue. Different media outlets are keen on using different strategies to cater to specific sides of the argument:

1) By presenting opinion as fact. (video)

It is quite obvious to see that Fox News holds a lot of sway in the realm of public opinion, their methods of doing so however, can be quite sinister. While the majority of programming on the network is quite rightly labelled as news, the opinions of TV personalities are oftentimes inserted in the broadcast, making it very difficult to distinguish them. In this clip from 2010, we can see how easily it is to be swayed by complete speculation.

2) Using straw man arguments, (misrepresentation of an opponent’s position).

This video explains the technique of how the straw man argument can be used in a debate about climate change. Once again, this clip from Fox News shows how they can employ this type of argument, going as far as bringing in an unrelated topic and catching their interviewee off guard

3) Abusing the recency effect to enflame public opinion.

-The recency effect holds that people will subconsciously consider more recent news to be more powerful than events that happened farther in the past. For example, the disastrous events of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the constant media coverage that followed dramatically reduced the support for offshore drilling, overshadowing the 40-year period without a spill. Another example of the short-sightedness of the media can be found in the first video link, where a recent large snow storm is used to disregard claims of climate change.

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2 Responses to Media Bias and Climate Change

  1. avatar Abayomi says:

    Great use of videos clips! You made great connections between the areas of “climate change” and “media representation of facts” by using videos that spoke about media’s representation of facts broadly. This is far better than singling out climate change in media in particular, as readers will be able to make a connection between their own experience with media misrepresenting facts and can therefore identify with the misrepresentations in climate change more personally.
    Comparing 2 of your videos, one showed a man in shorts, in winter, saying that global warming was a myth and a second video with a scientist describing the strawman technique. The ability of these two people to communicate to the public is markedly different. One brings across his point easily, comically with little facts and much animation, the other would probably loose most people after the first 20 seconds and uses movie clips ineffectively. He quotes from scientific article using terms like “anthropogenic”. His voice as well I don’t think is engaging. Perhaps there needs for a third party to deliver the message of science more effectively to the public.
    I listened to a talk by a media person on campus who said that often reporters have to cover stories that they do not have a good background on, but they have to create a story to get paid. So if doing the responsible thing gets a reporter fired, can he really be blamed for doing something less than responsible? Who is going to feed his family, me, or you?
    One video spoke about environmental activist flying in private jets. You said that this was not relevant. However I think it is, it is just that the two people being interviewed were not prepared to defend themselves adequately and put private jets in a wider scheme. What do you think they could have said to give a more effective answer to the reporters?
    Since scientists know that the regency effect is an innate part of mankind, perhaps they need to operate within the limits of the average human mind, just like the media does. This issue of the regency effect will not go away. Do you experience this effect personally. Can scientists use it to their advantage?
    What do you think can be done to correct the situation you have referred to?

  2. avatar Tim van Beek says:

    I’m sorry but I don’t see your point: The three examples of “rhetorical tricks” seem to be a more or less random choice, and of course in order to prove a bias of a specific news channel or another source you’d need more than anecdotal evidence.
    Also, I’d like to know who says what in a video before I take the time to watch it, please include a short description of it if you link to it and explain why it should be of interest to your readers.

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