A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

My first blog - and what a shocker!

Hi everyone. This Weblog will monitor carefully the output of environmental and science journalists in the British media. The purpose is not to take up a particular position on a given subject (e.g., 'global warming'), but to assess whether the topic is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, it will focus on the science, and it is hoped to be able to bring to public notice good science that is being ignored by the media because it may be politically incovenient to government, to certain pressure groups, or, indeed, for the agenda of the newspaper concerned. The emphasis will be on the broadsheet newspapers, the BBC, and Channel 4, because these present themselves as providing serious reportage and comment on environmental issues.

And we can begin with a truly disgraceful episode. The speculative leaking (Front Page Story: 'GM crops fail key trials amid environment fear', Thursday, October 2) by The Guardian newspaper of the UK GM farm-scale evaluations due to be published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences on October 16 has been roundly condemned by many serious scientists, but above all by the Royal Society itself. The Society rightly states in an unusually angry Media Release that such unwarranted speculation flies in the face of the public need for "... confidence in the independence and integrity of information about GM - the assurance that it does not reflect the influence of any group with a special interest for or against GM." I am certain that none of the authors of the scientific papers involved would compromise scientific integrity by leaking or commenting on the papers prior to full publication.

The Guardian was once a serious newspaper of both report and comment. Today, unfortunately, it is often extremely difficult to distinguish reportage from spun comment, as is all too apparent in this unacceptable piece of speculation. It is precisely such reporting that is undermining the role of science and scientists in the UK today.

I would thus encourage all serious newspapers and readers to wait until the eight scientific papers are formally published on October 16. They will also be made publically available on the journal's web site. Thus, as ever: "Read the original for yourself, and ignore media spin" - the basic motto of this Weblog. I will provide a link to the journal web site when the papers are published. Speak to you again soon - and always beware of the precedence given to quotations in environmental reports. The good, critical science usually comes last! Philip.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

WWW EnviroSpin Watch

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?