Spinning the science: Media Watch reports on the The Australian’s misunderstanding of coral science


It seems that we were not the only ones to be alarmed by the serious errors on the front page of The Australian last week.  ABC Media Watch explores journalist Jamie Walker’s illogical and fact-free rampage, identifying severe shortcomings in his story and any support for the conclusion that, “Report undercuts PM’s reef wipeout”.

As we blogged last week, there was no such report or conclusion by AIMS scientists.  In a continuation of The Australian’s war on science, it appears that the truth again has been the first casualty.

Media Watch does an excellent job of checking sources and exposing the poor reporting by the Australian.  And the conclusion is pretty clear.  In the words of AIMS Director Dr Ian Poiner,

“Based on… rigorous peer-reviewed research, AIMS has found that the science is pointing to potentially severe consequences for the Great Barrier Reef from climate change. Current observations of the state of the Reef this year do not contradict this.”

Media Watch seem to hit the nail squarely on the head:

Yes Jamie, but your views – which aren’t shared by the scientists you’re quoting – don’t belong in a news story.

The Australian’s opinion pages have openly favoured climate change sceptics for years. That’s the paper’s right.

But this sort of reporting – and it’s by no means the first example – entrenches scepticism, shall we say, about The Australian’s ability to separate its news coverage from its editorial views.

Click here for the full transcript. I wonder if Andrew Bolt will have anything to say on the matter?

5 thoughts on “Spinning the science: Media Watch reports on the The Australian’s misunderstanding of coral science

  1. Hurrah for Media Watch. The only depressing thing is that so few Australians watch it – and some that do (eg my grandfather) watch it only to then rant and rage about the ‘left wing loonies’ that control the ABC. . At least some of the other major print lines (eg Age and SMH) picked up on some of the bogus scientific claims that have been making the rounds. I wonder if they are also now going to claims that AIMS engineered the eating of the camera by the tiger shark a la the NASA failure?!

    • Thanks Deb – ideologues come in all shapes and forms. Some we love dearly!

      (yes, I’m waiting for our friends at The Australian to go the next step and beat the World Weekly News’ “Bat boy” article, which is apparently has the all-time record for sensational inaccuracy!)

    • Thanks John. And I agree, given the full-throttled attack on science by special interest and their denialist followers, scientists of all persuasions must be ready to defend their findings in an easy-to-understand, honest and compelling way.

  2. HiOveG,

    Thanks for the piece above, and yes the Bolter is on a rant on both his blog, but more importantly in the actual Herald Sun paper today. Wild claims that skeptics don’t get air time and really getting stuck into Tim Flannery.

    In essence he is responding now to a piece done by Jonathon Holmes yesterday following up on the media watch piece.. It is quite good, and is here:


    keep up the good work!

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