Politics

Turns Out News Corp Kept Lying About Climate Change, Even After Last Summer’s Fires

The damning new report shows that almost half of all articles studied completely rejected climate science.

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A new report shows that over the last 12 months — following the Black Summer bushfires — nearly half of all climate coverage in four News Corp publications cast doubt on or completely rejected climate science.

Professor Wendy Bacon, who conducted the research handed down in the Lies, Debates, and Silences: How News Corp produces climate scepticism in Australia report, said it showed a clear strategy from News Corp leadership.

“I would call it an editorial policy,” she said. “Recently, Rupert Murdoch said there were no denialists there. That is simply not true.

“Media companies control their own agenda, there’s nothing accidental about it. Considerable resources are spent on spreading misinformation about climate change.”

Professor Bacon’s analysis, commissioned by GetUp!, covered 8,612 pieces published by News Corp. Most of these articles were published in The Australian, though the newspaper had the lowest percentage of negative coverage at 38 percent.

The Daily Telegraph was the worst, with 58 percent of its pieces on climate change being negative.

This was partially skewed by the high frequency of opinion and commentary pieces. About 62 percent weren’t based on research or fact.

The other two surveyed papers were the Courier Mail and Herald Sun. Others owned by News Corp were excluded but still were likely to include climate denying material due to the syndication of columnists like Andrew Bolt, who was responsible for a large chuck of climate denial in the four surveyed papers.

He himself wrote 12 percent of articles surveyed. In the Herald Sun, his home paper, he made up 32 percent.

The top five columnists at News Corp wrote 44 percent of all opinion articles. All five were Sky News After Dark contributors too.

Professor Bacon said this showed there was an editorial direction.

“One thing I’d say, when you look at the top 10 opinion writers they all either reject climate science or are extremely negative about any action, with Bolt being very dominant,” she said. “Think about what resources are being spent on those opinion writers.

“That would be millions a year for all those people. It’s an editorial policy. You choose your journalists and opinion writers.”

Of the 55 percent of articles that accepted the science, Professor Bacon said most were poorly done.

They rarely included the perspectives of scientists, mentioned the impacts of climate change or failed to dispel misunderstandings about the phenomenon.

Another issue was the selection of sources. The most commonly used voice on climate change were politicians, as 47 per cent of all sources. Scientists made up just 6 percent of sources.

When it came to industry sources, fossil fuel, financial, and mining types made up 56 percent of voices. Renewable energy sources were just 5 percent.

Again, Professor Bacon said this showed that editorial decisions were driving the denial, and the News Corp papers were not acting as a “passive receptacle for people’s views”.

“A journalist understands the strategies,” she said. “You know how to construct the stories.”

The full report can be found here.