Despite the belief in journalism that to provide fairness to a story, you must give each side equal representation, BBC will stop giving equal air time to those who deny climate change, according to the Washington Post on Monday.
The change was handed down from the highest-ups at BBC Trust, the entity that governs the BBC. Already over 200 journalists have been trained to stop giving undue attention to “marginal opinion” on scientific issues.
A study about the issue stated that by giving climate change detractors equal air time as their counterparts, the BBC was not accurately reflecting the issue, especially when human-made climate change does exist. The training sessions attended by BBC journalists focused on finding a right balance to telling the story. Journalists should still include those who aren’t certain on climate change, but they shouldn’t try to manufacture a balance if there isn’t one naturally existing on the issue.
BBC News had been facing criticism for doing just that. A report from parliament actually singled out a few BBC programs that were responsible for trying to give climate change detractors an even voice. The publisher of the report stated that, “Given the high level of trust the public has in its coverage, it is disappointing that the BBC does not ensure all of its programmes and presenters reflect the actual state of climate science in its output.”
Members of Parliament then stated that the BBC should apply the same standards they use when interviewing non-experts about politics to interview non-experts about climate change and other scientific issues.
Ultimately, the BBC has been tasked with dialing back on opinions that could do harm when it comes to matters of science. The awareness the BBC has taken on would be a welcome standard for the rest of media to undertake. Any chance we’ll see this become a widespread trend?