This opinion piece discusses recent developments in news reporting – no more BBC platform for climate change deniers? It’d be about time.
From time to time the BBC gets itself into an awful mess over climate change. Unnecessarily so, given that it has visited and revisited principles of good coverage, repeatedly arriving at more or less the same conclusions.
Back in 2007, a report for the BBC Trust, then the corporation’s regulator, concluded that the old bipolar world of “the climate change debate” had gone. The working model had to change, as the title put it, From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel : “the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus. But these dissenters (or even sceptics) will still be heard, as they should.” Four years later, the Trust’s review of accuracy and impartiality in science coverage , commissioned from geneticist Professor Steve Jones, reached very similar conclusions.
Both reports were accepted by BBC managers. Both contain much that is common sense. And then there are the editorial guidelines, which are very clear that the guiding principle is “due impartiality”, rather than equal weight.