From the Guardian:
The BBC has come under fire from the chairman of an influential committee of MPs for favouring climate change sceptics in its coverage – and, according to documents seen by the Guardian, replied by saying that putting forward opinions not backed by science is part of its role.
That has enraged MPs further. Andrew Miller, chair of the science and technology committee, told the Guardian: “At a time when poor editorial decisions have dented trust in the BBC, the organisation should be taking much greater care over the accuracy of its reporting – especially in the area of science where misreporting can cause disastrous results, as the MMR media scare has shown.”
Apparently this is the BBC’s reply and here are some interesting extracts:
The BBC remains committed to the principles, set out in its Charter and Agreement, of due accuracy and impartiality, and to applying them to coverage of all the issues around climate change.
BBC Editorial Guidelines
The Editorial Guidelines (www.bbc.co.uk/editorialguidelines) set out numerous considerations for content producers. To ensure our audience is clear about the background and expertise of interviewees on news programmes, content providers must abide by the following guidelines: We should normally identify on-air and online sources of information and significant contributors, and provide their credentials, so that our audiences can judge their status.
We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities) are unbiased and we may need to make it clear to the audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint, if it is not apparent from their contribution or from the context in which their contribution is made. (4.4.14)
In 2011 the BBC Trust published a report it had commissioned from Professor Steve Jones on the impartiality and accuracy of the BBC’s coverage of science. It covered a range of topics including climate change, his assessment was that the BBC had continued to give undue prominence to climate change sceptics and had not kept pace with the debate: “The real discussion has moved on to what should be done to mitigate climate change. Its coverage has been impeded by the constant emphasis on an exhausted subject whose main attraction is that it can be presented as a confrontation”.
The BBC’s Science Editor, David Shukman, was appointed following the Professor Steve Jones review of the impartiality and accuracy of the BBC’s science coverage. David’s role is described in some detail in the BBC Executive’s follow up report (December 2012): http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/our_work/science_impartiality/science_impartiality_followup.pdf.
College of Journalism science training
As part of the BBC’s response to Professor Jones’ report, the BBC’s College of Journalism set up and runs a course called ‘Reporting Science’, which is open to all staff. During the course, delegates discuss issues raised by the Jones report, and work on ways to ensure that future BBC science coverage complies with our accuracy and impartiality requirements. BBC News has made the course
compulsory for assistant editors and above (i.e. all those with editorial responsibility for programmes and web pages), and highly recommended for other grades.
Extensive discussion with scientists and the scientific community took place during the preparation of the course material. Most notably, we spent an afternoon with the President of the Royal Society and Nobel Laureate, Sir Paul Nurse, and interviewed him about science reporting, how science works, pitfalls and opportunities and so on.
The BBC Editorial Guidelines set out our due impartiality and due accuracy requirements. In essence, interviews should be conducted on the basis of reasoned argument. However, so long as ministers have to face arguments based on misunderstandings, even ignorance, they will be given the opportunity to rebut them on the BBC. This is recognised in the Editorial Guidelines, which say “Accuracy is not simply a matter of getting facts right. If an issue is controversial, relevant opinions as well as facts may need to be considered. When necessary, all the relevant facts and information should also be weighed to get at the Truth” (Section 3: Accuracy).
If nothing else it shows just how influential Prof Steve Jones has been in corrupting the BBC’s reporting on climate change…as well as that other climate change fanatic Paul Nurse…who appointed Jones to the Royal Society ….undoubtedly for his good work at the BBC on climate change.
This might also be news to most of us:
But earlier this year in a select committee hearing David Jordan, head of editorial standards, told MPs that the broadcaster had decided not to follow Jones’ key recommendations on climate change: “[Jones] made one recommendation that we did not take on board. He said we should regard climate science as settled … we should not hear from dissenting voices on the science.”
The BBC has held a high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts, and has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus [on anthropogenic climate change].