The death of journalism and the irresistible rise of the blogosphere.

The IPCC has screwed up again. They published a claim last month in their renewables report saying that renewable technologies could supply 80% of world-wide energy needs by the mid-century. What they actually published was an executive summary of the report, not the report itself. That was published a full month later.

The summary or should I be more honest and call it the press release, was given to the journalists of the MSM (Main Stream Media) who promptly and dutifully cut and pasted it into their news streams.

When the report was published, a certain Mr. McIntyre went through it to determine the scientific basis of the 80% figure and was more than mildly surprised to find out it not only originated from Greenpeace but the original author of the piece, an employee of Greenpeace, had also been the same person who reviewed and edited the piece for the IPCC working party which produced the report. Conflict of interest doesn’t even begin to describe this situation.

Of course, the blogosphere is now laying into the IPCC with a vengeance and while they deserve it, I think mention should be made of another party whose laziness and slipshod practices stand yet again nakedly exposed by this particular episode. I’m of course referring to the journalists of the MSM.

In what now seems to be a bygone era, junior reporters had hammered into them by editors what were called the two golden rules. The first one is never believe a word from a government or any official spokesman. The second one is that when you’re handed a story on a plate by somebody, ask yourself what’s in it for them. At face value these rules may appear to be cynical but they were what kept the fourth estate from lapsing into a public relations organ of any and all vested interests.

When looked at in the context of these two simple rules, this was a massive fail by all those journalists concerned. All they did was regurgitate the PR release without applying any critical faculties to the claim being made. Given the current under performance of renewable energy sources and the not unreasonable estimate that the world with its extra two billion people will be demanding more energy by the mid-century, the claim looks hopelessly optimistic.

The story on a plate of course serves the purposes of Greenpeace and the renewables industry. In the current financial climate, the latter are fighting to save the government subsidies that are keeping their corporate profitability on life support. Judging from their bombed out share prices, investors are not optimistic on their chances of survival.

Of course, the situation could have been retrieved if just one enterprising journalist somewhere in the world had checked the claim when the full report was published. Just one. This never happened and in my experience, was unlikely to ever happen either. Instead Steve McIntyre, the man who debagged the hockey stick, did the spade work and the truth came out.

What does this all mean? Well actually it means independent journalism in the MSM is dead. What’s left is a thinly disguised PR mechanism for the establishment. Yes, the establishment. It’s a very sixties moment when you finally realise this. Its function is to present a monolithic officially approved viewpoint on any non-trivial subject. It doesen’t even bother any more to project even a shadow of an illusion of plurality. It is now “the man” and, as they said in the sixties, you’ve got to go up against the man. A lot of other people at the time chose to drop out; the opinions, lifestyle and aspirations on offer were all so totally alien to them. In the absence of any other alternative, they created their own thing.

What’s often forgotten is that a third way was found by many of the disillusioned people of the era. They started publishing their own magazines and periodicals. They were modest efforts and most of them eventually foundered but the best of them survived and went on to great success, which some of them still enjoy to this day. They prospered at the expense of the MSM until it restructured its offering.

In an analogous fashion, the blogosphere has become the information source of choice for those disillusioned with the MSM’s uniform and authoritarian output. It’s only there that you’ll find diversity and dissent from the officially approved party line. It’s there that you’ll find people prepared to give honest comment, analysis and insight without worrying what their employer might think; all the best ones are unpaid anyway. It’s there you’ll find people who are prepared to say what most people are thinking.

Ever since the blogosphere outed the Climategate scandal, its power and influence has increased at the expense of the MSM. What was once regarded as an underdog to be marginalised and ignored is now an opinion former. Across the world, newsrooms are being culled of journalists; the product simply isn’t selling. Conversely, more and more people are turning to the blogosphere.

Tune into the blogosphere and drop out of the MSM. It’s there that you’ll find people like Steve McIntyre. Investigative journalism is alive and well; it’s just moved house.

©Pointman

ps. One for the underdogs. They can really bite. Amp number 11 on this one too.

Related articles by Pointman:

Another body floats by.

The MSM and climate alarmism.

Click for a list of other articles.

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Comments
36 Responses to “The death of journalism and the irresistible rise of the blogosphere.”
  1. orkneylad says:

    Great post Pointman, long live the fifth estate. :-)

  2. Alexander K says:

    Back in the 60s I was the editor for a couple of monthly magazines for sporting and cultural organisations I was a member of. Those little magazines expanded over time, then shrank again and have now been entirely replaced first by the medium of email and now by those organisations building their own dedicated interactive web sites which carry info for members.
    In the same time frame mainstream newspapers have largely rendered themselves irrelevant, which is evidenced by plunging circulations and the displacement of former staff.

    • Pointman says:

      Hello and welcome Alexander. The parallels to the 60s are quite striking. An MSM rigidly controlled and the free-spirited defecting to elsewhere for their news and views.

      Pointman

  3. pesadia says:

    I once sat next to a group of students in a pub and overheard what I considered at the time to be a very frightening statement.
    Whilst trying to support a statement made to his fellow students, he said “its true, I read it in a newspaper”
    That was is the early seventies and I have never fogotten it.

  4. Labmunkey says:

    Excellent article. Someone should inform Richard Black…

    • Pointman says:

      Hello and welcome Labmunkey. My apologies for being late letting you in; for some reason your post went into the spam queue.

      On the Richard Black front, it’s about time he became informed about something …

      Pointman

  5. Green Sand says:

    Well done Pointman, very well said. The MSM has been lamentable and the establishment has taken advantage.

    May I also second your comment to Orkney – The Fifth Estate! I somehow think it will stick.

  6. greg2213 says:

    Well, being in a particularly cynical mood today I think I have to modify your rules, just a bit. Keep in mind that none of these “journalists” saw anything wrong with ClimateGate, much less the current Greenpeace/IPCC problem.

    1) The first one is never believe a word from a government or any official spokesman (unless said entity is a Democrat.)
    2) The second one is that when you’re handed a story on a plate by somebody, ask yourself what’s in it for them (unless said entity is a Democrat.)

    I suspect the major difference is that back then a journalists might, maybe, possibly have had some odd feelings about the Government PR, but there’s none of that today. They’ve been Dem shills for a long time, now.

    You’re 100% on about the blogosphere, but it still hasn’t penetrated deeply enough into the general population. You know, the group of people too busy taking care of their lives to spend much time browsing the web for decent coverage of issues.

    • Pointman says:

      Hi Greg. Sounds like the rules for post-normal journalism …

      Pointman

    • G. Combs says:

      Actually the blogoshere (Fifth Estate) is really catching on more than many people think. I do children’s entertainment and the amount of information not available through the MSM but through the blogosphere that is being discussed at kid’s birthday parties, is astonishing. I get asked for links so often I now carry index cards and a pen.

      This transformation has been very recent too. Within the last three to four years.

      Since the economy did a nose dive more people are interested in what the heck our political leaders are up to and in general the opinion is they are the paid puppets of the multi-national corporations not reps of the people who vote for them.

      The waking up of the “Sleeping Giant” has been absolutely fascinating to watch. When I can stand in a feed store in the middle of nowhere and the conversation I am having with the store owner is joined by a bunch of ‘red-necked hicks’ who are KNOWLEDGEABLE about the central banking cartel and economics, you know the blogosphere is having a real impact. These ‘country bumpkins’ were also aware of Climategate and had a fairly good grasp of climate science. These are the SAME folks our government in a publication to its agents recommended addressing at the sixth grade level BTW.

      Unlike the government I have a lot of respect for the intelligence and good old common horse sense of the rural community.

  7. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Rare good stuff Mr P!

    Add to your efforts Ben Pile’s post at Bishop Hill of the other half of the WG3 report story. And a stinker it is too.

  8. Hillbilly33 says:

    Firstly Pointman, after reading your sobering story on identity theft, I’ve heeded your warning and no longer post under my real name. Here in Australia, another poll just released indicates Labor is at it’s lowest level for over 40 years and support for Julia Gillard, our bungling, lying, backstabbing excuse for a Prime Minister has dropped even further. This, despite a three weeks media propaganda blitz featuring so-called celebrities, former Prime Ministers, religious and Union leaders et.al, most of whom seem to have vested interests in promoting the AGW scam.

    Once again, because they only seem to read Left-wing journalists and rags like “The Age” and listen to the opinions of the few remaining supporters and commenters of the deeply biased national broadcaster ABC, they have grossly underestimated the anger and the deep feelings of resentment in the general public. Sales of the left-wing papers continue to drop and TV ratings fall in ABC programs and as your article points out it is becoming increasingly obvious people are turning to the blogs for information and starting to desert all forms of the MSM in droves.

    Apart from a few people like Andrew Bolt, investigative journalism is dead in Australia but still the “powers-that-be” in some of the above organisations are scratching their heads and wondering why their following is rapidly dropping!

    The real positive is that the UNIPCC and other pro-AGW sources will never again be able to get away with demonstrably false and/or dubious claims unchallenged!

    • Pointman says:

      Hello and welcome Hillbilly.

      “The real positive is that the UNIPCC and other pro-AGW sources will never again be able to get away with demonstrably false and/or dubious claims unchallenged!”

      The really interesting thing about this scandal is that they still appear to think they can!

      Pointman

      ps. If you hover your mouse over the picture of the Rottweiler, there’s a message to the IPCC.

  9. MichaelC58 says:

    First time here – from J.Curry. Like your points.
    The journalistic decay is probably compounded here by the absolute moral primacy of AGW – any wrong doing is excusable to the morally sound population. Exaggeration, conflict of interest, even rent-seeking are ‘white lies’ when furthering environmentalism. They all advanced the good cause, I reckon, even if MSM journalists found a fault with the report, they would not report it, lest they contribute to climate scepticism, stop climate action and be blamed for deaths of millions. So why bother looking. Hell, even the act of looking is probably a bit treasenous.

    PS; Further to Hillbilly33, there are some passable MSM down under. The Australian, even though they believe in cAGW, include plenty of sceptic articles and are scathing about all the insane carbon abatement schemes to date.

  10. NoIdea says:

    The overbite of the underdog

    Churnalists are just repeating puppets
    Plagiarising from the public domain
    Churnalism is recycling endless rubbish
    Turgidly stirring reports of pointless pain

    When every picture paints a thousand lies
    Every word is just an echo of a paradox
    And they are too scared to even try
    To extend their thinking outside their tiny little box

    Sniffing at the buts of others
    Snorting at the gaps between the tails
    Picking at the scabs that cover
    Regurgitating dross from all the other fails

    A new wave is cresting in the world of the blogs
    A tsunami of hope and dreams and light
    Freaking the mainstream, we are the underdogs
    They fear our bark; they have not felt our bite

    NoIdea

  11. GregO says:

    Pointman,

    You are right on here. I found out about Climategate from the Wall Street Journal and hacked around on my computer and discovered the blogosphere. Before then, I just assumed the blogosphere was just youngsters communicating in barbaric runes saying nothing of value; or the ever-present idiot fringes. Upon finding that the real discussion of CAGW was on the blogosphere I was hooked.

    I have since canceled my subscription to Newsweek and Scientific American after seeing how poorly they reported Climategate – I had to ask myself what else are they failing to report and what other lies are they pushing?

    • mlpinaus says:

      Same story. Thought a blog was something kids did in the morning, after breakfast….. Discovered the real purpose of Hopenchangen, then Climategate. Oh dear…… Dropped our terrible local daily rag, and then New Scientist and Scientific American when their reporting was plain wrong. Don’t like being lied to….
      Marcus

  12. meltemian says:

    I like “churnalism” NoIdea. Very apposite!

  13. Pointman says:

    @Greensand,

    The Lynas post is superb. I can’t wait to hear the IPCC’s reply to his and McIntyre’s questions.

    http://www.marklynas.org/2011/06/questions-the-ipcc-must-now-urgently-answer/

    Pointman

  14. Pointman says:

    It’s interesting how important the climategate event was on the development of the blogosphere. Prior to it, the decent skeptic blogs were relatively quiet places. Good but sometimes very technical debates occurred and there were a steady stream of contributions from regulars.

    In the weeks after climategate didn’t break in the MSM, the blogs were flooded by new contributors and readers. What’s more, the new contributors seemed to be enquiring types, mostly from professional backgrounds. They were all angry too. They’d been lied to. For the first time they realised how badly they’d been mislead by the MSM and here it was refusing to even mention the elephant in the room.

    The blogosphere’s gain and the MSM’s loss I think. I wonder if anyone has done a study of cancelled subscriptions since Nov 2009? It might make for some interesting reading.

    Pointman

  15. Blackswan says:

    Pointman,

    There isn’t much that comes out of the IPCC these days that has any credibility at all. What is supposedly a government appointed panel of representative ‘scientists’ is awash with economists, apparatchiks, consultants to industry – a parody of its stated intent – a circus.

    So what has the MSM’s track-record been in holding those clowns to account?
    Answer: Pathetic. You’ve nailed it Pointman – their “laziness and slipshod practices” reveal them to be political whores, too ready to pander to their political and corporate masters.

    We could count on our fingers the number of journalists who have challenged Climate Fraud. They in turn have been derided and ridiculed for their trouble. In the main the MSM’s response has been one of ‘compromise’ – they’ve compromised their integrity, compromised principles of justice, compromised their independence.

    When did it change? The MSM may have been the Fourth Estate and the blogosphere has now become the Fifth, but IMHO the MSM is in reality the Fifth Column. A bunch of seditious ‘sell-outs’ who have damaged their nations’ economies, set us on a path to insurmountable sovereign debt and utterly betrayed the people who relied upon them to communicate a simple truth. Nobody with a modicum of integrity could describe carbon dioxide as any kind of ‘pollution’, much less drive the planet’s climate.

    Without MSM complicity Carbon Fraud would never have been taken seriously by anybody.

  16. Blackswan says:

    Ross Gittins is economics editor for The Australian. He has some interesting observations about the MSM involvement in Carbon Fraud……

    “Messengers don’t decide which messages they’ll deliver and which they won’t; which they’ll shout from the rooftops and which they’ll whisper. Every aspect of the reporting and editing process involves judgments about what goes in and what hits the cutting-room floor. It’s clear the media is often happy to pass on to its paying punters without comment, information it either knows is misleading or hasn’t bothered to inquire into.”

    http://www.smh.com.au/business/let-punters-beware-of-business-carbon-claims-20110619-1ga2c.html

    “Businesses on the make invariably seek to pressure governments by putting the frighteners on the public. And this means they often claim the government measure they’re objecting to would lead to huge job losses. This has the additional advantage of frightening their own employees, and so getting the union to join them in the fight.”

    Ah, what a tangled web we weave………….

  17. Pointman says:

    A quick trawl reveals the effect of the MSM product not being fit for consumption.

    “‘Guardian’ to cut jobs after £35m loss”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/press/guardian-to-cut-jobs-after-16335m-loss-2298699.html

    “Newsroom cutbacks hurt America
    Some of my best friends are newspapers reporters and editors — the same folks a new federal report has listed as a virtual endangered species.”

    http://www.maysville-online.com/news/opinion/columnists/article_6c946664-9ab7-11e0-9089-001cc4c03286.html

    And it’s been going on for some time.
    “Adding Up The Newspaper Cutbacks”

    http://recoveringjournalist.typepad.com/recovering_journalist/2008/08/newspaper-layoff-log.html

    Pointman

  18. Pointman says:

    “Carbon Cate buys beachfront property… in Vanuatu”

    http://www.australianclimatemadness.com/2011/06/carbon-cate-buys-beachfront-property%E2%80%A6-in-vanuatu/

    Looks like Cate’s property investment advisors have spotted the same buying opportunity as Al Gore’s. Isn’t Vanuatu that little island about to be submerged?

    Pointman

  19. Pointman says:

    Breaking news. Another chapter of the IPCC Renewables Report appears to have been produced by contributors employed or professionally connected to the dam construction/operating industry. Any guesses about which section? Yes, the hydro power chapter.

    http://www.marklynas.org/2011/06/new-allegation-of-ipcc-renewables-report-bias/

    My comment there –

    Again Mark, congratulations for highlighting yet another conflict of interest issue that won’t be addressed by so many professional environmental journalists.

    I do have to ask the question of why such apparent rigging of a significant chapter of the renewables report, wasn’t uncovered by a journalist, especially after McIntyre’s recent example.

    Pointman

  20. Pointman says:

    Looks like the climate establishment are turning their guns on the churnalists for the renewables report fiasco.

    “It is clear that many of the problems identified in the press release are easily solvable (or at least readily identifiable) with the bare minimum of good journalistic practice”

    http://climateaudit.org/2011/06/20/the-carbon-brief-a-first-coat-of-whitewash/

    Pointman

  21. Blackswan says:

    Came across this link from the China Daily which I find most relevant to this discussion…..

    “As more and more people are turning to microblogging as a means to participate in public affairs and to express their personal opinions, it has become particularly important for government officials to improve their media literacy.

    Microblogging was introduced in China in 2009 and has quickly developed into a major channel of public opinions within less than three years.”

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2011-07/02/content_12822166.htm

    Amazingly, as various incidents of corruption and social scandals have spread through the Chinese bloggosphere, Government and Party Officials are actually voicing some ‘concern’ at the response and public opinion, promising greater transparency.

    How about that?

    Meanwhile in the West, politicians remain oblivious to public opinion and outrage regarding Climate legislation, the EU, the UN, the IMF or here in Australia where polls indicate 82% of people reject Co2 Taxes and Emissions Trading. And WE are supposed to live in democracies???

    The MSM propaganda machine has much to answer for, and the Fifth Estate goes from strength to strength.

  22. Russell C says:

    Steve Goddard’s blog steers me here today. Regarding ‘blogosphere journalism’, it allows an ordinary person like me to once again ask a major network anchorman why he excluded skeptic climate scientists from his program for 15+ years. Please see: “PBS and Global Warming Skeptics’ Lockout” http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/08/pbs_and_global_warming_skeptics_lockout.html

    Without this thing Al Gore invented called the “internet” all I’d have for my inquiry efforts is just two bits of stationery, a ‘celebrity’ autograph, and a vague answer telling me nothing. Now I can share this with everyone, with the goal of showcasing how far off the rails the mainstream media has gone….

    • Pointman says:

      Hello and welcome Russell and I’d add, I always enjoy your work over at American Thinker. Your persistence is admirable.

      The MSM seems to live in a place I call medialand, as opposed to the real world. It’s not only lost touch with the latter but it’s becoming ever more inward looking. Medialand people don’t report news, they present it and with a spin that will be approved of by other people in medialand. If it inconveniently can’t be spun then it’s omitted, GW being a prime example of this.

      http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2010/12/21/the-msm-and-climate-alarmism/

      Pointman

  23. Lawrie Ayres says:

    The most pro left media in Australia apart from the National Broadcaster, the ABC, is Fairfax publishers of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age. They have no idea of balance and of course provide a platform for every Labor and Green as well as the usual left wing academics and dishonest climate scientists. They are also going broke and according to one pundit are due to be out of business by 2015. Strangel it is their left wing compatriot ABC that is doing them in by running free 24 hour news and several taxpayer funded blogs. Originally Fairfax was the broadsheet of choice for the conservative businessman. Now it panders to the inner city rich and famous non business types.

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