Dec 052011

LouiseGrayIt’s always reassuring to think that, whatever their opinions might be, Environment Correspondents on the leading national broadsheets are really up-to-speed with the basics of highly contentious subjects like climate change. Now there’s Louise Gray of the Daily Telegraph for example, who’s been covering the subject for years. Surely we can feel confident in the factual content of her reports, can’t we?

But this afternoon I saw a reprint of a Telegraph article about the Durban Summit under Ms Gray’s by-line at the Global Warming Policy Foundation, and this  is the opening paragraph below the sub-heading:

The Lib Dem minister, who is responsible for climate change, will arrive at UN talks in Durban, South Africa, today to lead the charge for an international deal to stop global temperatures rising above 35.6F (2C). (GWPF)

Oh Dear! But fear not, some eagle eyed newshound at the Telegraph has been hard at work saving their ace environment reporter’s blushes, because this is what I found when I checked out the story at their website.

The Lib Dem minister, who is responsible for climate change, will arrive at UN talks in Durban, South Africa, today to lead the charge for an international deal to stop global temperatures rising by more than 3.6F (2C). (Telegraph)

Perhaps as well as changing that very embarrassing piece of copy, the Telegraph should consider changing it’s Environment Correspondent.

11 Responses to “A degree or two of disbelief”

  1. While I agree, and lament, that most of the media have a strong pro-warmist agenda, I think this particular criticism of a journalist is unfair. In my own profession I also have to do a lot of writing, and I know very well how easy it is to make (sometimes glaring) errors due to tiredness, pressure of work, or shear inadvertency. Everybody makes mistakes and is entitled to some understanding with respect to this. She certainly does not deserve to be fired for making this error.

  2. The suggestion that the Telegraph should seek a new correspondent was obviously tong-in-cheek, but that error was far more than the kind of typo that we all make. And I don’t much like the fact that the correction was apparently made without altering the date stamp on the article. As things stand, the time on the GWPF version is later than that on the Telegraph website.

  3. The suggestion that the Telegraph should seek a new correspondent was obviously tong-in-cheek, but that error was far more than the kind of typo that we all make. And I don’t much like the fact that the correction was apparently made without altering the date stamp on the article. As things stand, the time on the GWPF version is later than that on the Telegraph website.

  4. If the Lib Dem minister is responsible for climate change, why not just fire him and all climate change will stop.

  5. In addition to errors, sloppy reporting and stealth edits, there is the issue of “churnalism”, as expounded by Nick Davies in Flat Earth News. Blogger Katabasis has recently made something of a study of this phenomenon, singling out the BBC and Guardian, in particular, as being frequent culprits – copying and pasting material wholesale from Environment Agency press releases, for example. Louise Gray is mentioned briefly in this post about press releases from activist group “Frack Off”, and her name crops up in other posts too.

  6. Alex

    I expect that you saw this article by David Whithouse which, remarkably, appeared at the Huffington Post. It shows that a competent journalist can get a well balanced article into the most unexpected places without pandering to the journal’s editorial line. Now Judith Curry has given it another lease of life at Climate Etc where it has triggered a vigorous discussion.

    This is one of my favourite contributions from Louise Gray:

    Fish carried up a mountain on backs of llamas to escape global warming

    Reading the article, it’s by no means clear that she has a sense of humour.

  7. TonyN good to have you back posting a few articles again. Louise Gray is the subject of much amusement over at the Fairygraph. Along with that other cut & paste expert Geoffy Lean who posts some incredible garbage. It’s a sad reflection on a once great paper that you cannot trust anything from either of these 2 and many more besides.

    But I guess getting a gong means more to the owners than printing acurate copy.

  8. Hi Tony

    Did you mean this?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/8444032/Fish-carried-up-a-mountain-on-backs-of-llamas-to-escape-global-warming.html

    It would be interesting to know how much warming they were escaping from, and what temperature swings they will now have to cope with. Large bodies of water are usually very stable, and if they’re nice and deep, the fish find their own ideal spot, probably not available at their new address!

    [TonyN says: Link fixed, thanks.]

  9. Larry T

    If the Lib Dem minister is responsible for climate change, why not just fire him and all climate change will stop.

    It already has! (No warming past 11 years.)

    (Keep him on – he must be doing a great job.)

    Max

  10. The llama/fish story is a gem, isn’t it – a heart-warming tale of interspecies cooperation in the face of global warming. The comments are a joy, as well; here’s a choice contribution from edwardbancroft:

    Oh Louise, if you actually exist, you make my days sing.

    I used to get annoyed at your lack of curiousity, your unwillingness to investigate an environmental story beyond a cut and paste, and your supine acceptance of any pressure group’s flimflam.

    Now you have become a treasure to be savoured. Your articles possess both an impossibly wafer thin superficiality and the voluminous capacity to fill even the most yawning editorial void.

    Tony, on a more serious note, the David Whitehouse article is excellent.

    The internet has seen coverage of science issues in the news media becoming more homogenous. Information is more readily available to all, not just a privileged journalist. It can travel faster, and it is easier to see what stories competitors are doing. The result has been that news outlets have become bland clones of one another, hardly adding much value over the equally accessible scientists own blogs or non-professional journalists, and real scoops are far less common than they were. The spectrum of stories being covered has narrowed to a worrying degree.

    It is strange – back in the ’90s, at the dawn of the internet age, (and perhaps somewhat naively) I would have predicted the opposite happening, and that instant access to more information would have led, generally, to journalists producing a wealth of far better-researched articles. With hindsight, of course, this has not turned out exactly to be the case.

  11. Regarding Louise Gray’s (or Loopy Lu as I gather she known as) error, it has to be said that the first print run of Lawson’s excellent book, An appeal to Reason, had similar errors throughout – someone converting, say, 2degC rise to degF did the classic mistake of treating ‘delta T’ (change in Temp) as plain ‘T’ (actual temperature).
    Thus 9/5 x 2 = 3.6 but then + 32 = 35.6F
    It even might be a trick of MS Sirius Cybernetics software.

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