With the carbon tax coming in tomorrow, at the vanguard of those denigrating this important step in combatting climate change will inevitably be Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian. And as Dan Cass says, if “…there is any outlet in Australia guilty of biased reporting on global warming, it is The Australian”.
The Australian newspaper has a problem.
Rupert Murdoch founded The Australian to be his political voice in this country and funded it even though it failed to turn a profit. The Murdoch clan was prepared to subsidise a non-commercial outlet for ideological reasons. This seems to have created an organisational psychology that is increasingly paranoid.
Currently, The Australian it is fighting a war with Jonathan Holmes, the anchor of the ABC’s Media Watch — a venerable programme that exposes bad journalism in Australia.
The Australian’s battle with Mr Holmes is not about the facts of climate science and renewable energy technology, but a proxy argument about hate speech and journalism. Extraordinarily, The Australian has now written several editorials and news pieces attacking him.
The story has become annoyingly complicated, which is what happens when one party in an argument refuses to accept that they are losing that argument. The Australian’s accusation is that the ABC (and Fairfax) media are politically motivated to beat-up allegations of hate speech against climate scientists.
(If anything, the media should be faulted for encouraging hate speech against the green movement, but that is another story.)
If the ABC and Fairfax had exaggerated the level of hate speech directed at climate scientists in a few stories, you would think this is not something that would give another outlet a brain explosion. Every issue in public life gets some overemphasis in one direction or another by one or more outlets from time to time. That is why it is so important to strive for effective media diversity.
If there is any outlet in Australia guilty of biased reporting on global warming, it is The Australian. Robert Manne, one of the country’s leading public intellectuals, wrote an excellent analysis exposing the paper’s disinformation campaign against climate science. He showed that the paper distorted the science, slandered the scientists and raised anti-climate anecdote to the status of proven fact.
In 2012, the global warming debate has stalled significantly and the main game is not the science that documents the problem, but rather the technologies that provide the solutions. Whether or not the world has a binding global climate treaty and carbon price, renewables are defeating fossil fuels on price alone.
Solar power, wind power, electric vehicles and energy conservation are becoming cheaper than coal, gas and nuclear electricity and petroleum vehicles.
Every day, I read stories about excellent developments in clean energy technology, finance, policy and politics. Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world and the media here ignores most of it — largely due, I believe, to the malign influence of the Australian.
For example, McKinsey & Company forecasts that solar electricity is already competitive with coal in some markets and its price will drop another 40 per cent by 2015. McKinsey’s prediction is that solar will be worth US$1 trillion over the next 8 years, with an economic potential at 2020 of 1 million megawatts.
For reasons that can only be speculated upon, this economic progress is upsetting to Rupert Murdoch and his beloved The Australian. Instead of embracing the good news, in their paranoid heads, they have turned it into bad news. Instead of supporting the opportunities that technological progress creates for business, they are defending business-as-usual: coal, oil and gas.
As a result of progress in clean tech, The Australian is currently redeploying its troops from a terrorist campaign against science to a guerrilla war on technology.
The paper’s editorial writers and certain journalists are out to destroy the wind and solar industries. The paper is so biased that it fails to see the progress in other technologies – such as smart grids, storage, consumer power monitoring and electric vehicles – which means it is yet to strafe them with the same enthusiasm.
For its part, certain sections of the renewable energy industry need to stop sucking up to The Australian. Every time they give it a story or advertise there, they are undermining the clean tech market.
The ABC’s news and current affairs journalists must cease treating The Australian as a reliable news source — it isn’t. How often do we see the ABC start with a clear, objective line on an issue and then distort it the next day, to account for a front page beat-up in The Australian?
Journalists at News Ltd need to be braver and tell their colleagues at The Australian what they really think of it. Sometimes you have to be honest with your friends, even if it is emotionally difficult to get through to them.
I will never forget the wise counsel of a CEO I know, whose pithy advice once helped me drop a futile battle that I had been waging. “When you find yourself alone in a big, ugly hole,” he said, “stop digging”.
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