Thursday, April 8, 2010

Why I don't talk to journalists

In the past month I've declined two invitations to be interviewed by national/state daily newspapers about my work (most of which is unrelated to the main topic of my blog). It didn't take long to make the decision. The decision was not a protest. Neither I nor my clients seek publicity. My work is not normally of interest to the general public. I don't get approached often and have agreed only when fully confident in the interviewer and the media organisation, and had something of value to contribute.

In any case, after seeing what some journalists do to those who accede to such requests, it is not hard to work out that no publicity is better than misrepresentation and disinformation. Newspapers in Australia like the Herald Sun and the Australian have been woeful in their reporting of climate science, as have publications such as the Guardian, the Times (UK) and, most recently, Der Speigel. There is no reason to think their reporting of any other matter is any better.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to double check material before publication. There is no guarantee that even after looking at an article before publication that the article will remain in that form, as evidenced by the behaviour of Jonathan Leake.

I am aware that there are leading climate scientists in Australia who will no longer (or at least rarely and reluctantly) talk to journalists, for reasons outlined by Clive Hamilton and others. If the press wants to do its job properly, first it has to lift its game and start to demonstrate integrity or it will find no-one but publicity seekers left to talk to.

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