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AP Runs Environmental Propaganda Piece as News

Another case of journalism by fax machine. For those of you not familiar with the phenomenon, it works like this. An environmentalist wakes up one morning and types up a "report" in the name of his "environmental group." They then fax that "report" to the media who runs it nearly verbatim. AKA Journalism by press release.

Consider this AP report which I took the unusual step of reproducing in its entirety. Read it critically, you might notice a few things missing:

Group Warns of Shrinking Glaciers' Effect

Science [-sic] - AP

By JONATHAN FOWLER, Associated Press Writer

GENEVA - The shrinking of Himalayan glaciers could fuel an upswing in flooding in China, India and Nepal, before creating water shortages for hundreds of millions of people across the region, a leading environmental group warned Monday.

In a report, the Switzerland-based World Wide Fund for Nature said the rate of retreat of the Asian mountain range's glaciers is accelerating because of global warming, and has now reached 33-49 feet a year.

"The rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers will first increase the volume of water in rivers causing widespread flooding," said Jennifer Morgan, head of WWF's global climate change program. "But in a few decades this situation will change and the water level in rivers will decline, meaning massive economic and environmental problems for people in Western China, Nepal and Northern India."

Himalayan glaciers feed into seven of Asia's biggest rivers: the Ganges; Indus; Brahmaputra; Mekong; Thanlwin, formerly known as the Salween; Yangtze and Yellow.

WWF noted that this ensures a year-round water supply to hundreds of millions of people in the Indian subcontinent and China.

As glacier water flows dwindle, the energy potential of hydroelectric power will decrease, causing problems for industry, while reduced irrigation means lower crop production, it said.

Nepal has an annual average temperature rise of .11 degrees Fahrenheit. The report said that flows have decreased in three of Nepal's snow-fed rivers.

In China, the report said, the Qinhai Plateau's wetlands have seen declining lake water levels, lake shrinkage, and the degradation of swampland. In India, the Gangotri glacier, which supports one of India's largest river basins, is receding at an average rate of 76 feet per year.

All the "journalist" did was send out the environmental group's press release. There was no checking to see if any of it was true. There was no interview from any scientist who might disagree. Nothing. Just a restatement of the so called "report."

I hope the AP got paid for that. The pr-newswire makes big money for publishing press releases. This is how environmental "science" reporting works today. An environmental group types up a "report" that can claim basically anything and the media runs it unchallenged. Science be damned, the media will report anything the environmentalists tell them to.

Now- If Halliburton released a "report" that said we had enough oil in the ground to last us another 100 years, do you think the AP would run that unchallenged? Liberal bias in the media? What liberal bias?

[Kevin adds: Thanks to Illuminaria's Voice for the link to the WWF press release that they note the AP copies nearly verbatim.]


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Comments (46)

There's nothing wrong with ... (Below threshold)

There's nothing wrong with the AP publishing a press release. I just wish more media outlets did so. It would make my job much easier.

hmmm... at first it says we... (Below threshold)
Jon:

hmmm... at first it says we should expect wide spread flooding in the asian sub-continent. To be followed by dwindling supplies of water, and shortages, daughts.

The data offered shows merely the shortages and draughts...

kinda like Russia (a feudal pre-industrial nation) jumping right into Communism (that Marx said would follow a fully capitalistic industrial nation).

An alternate hypothesis is to ask are there glaciers being measured that are increasing instead of shrinking? Is 'global warming' truly global? etc.. etc...

Fun project for someone:</p... (Below threshold)

Fun project for someone:

1. Set up domain and website for some generic leftist enviro crapological institute.

2. Start issuing press releases to AP, etc.

3. See how many get published and where.

4. See how long it takes before one of the MSM sources calls you out.

5. Blog the whole thing.

Requirements:

- A couple of $ for the domain and hosting, and the time to make a basic web site.

- The ability to write well enough that the people reading the releases at the AP, etc. don't become suspicious. I would have to sound pro.

I think the biggest issue w... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

I think the biggest issue with journalism right now is basically laziness, especially where there is idealogical agreement-which is why you rarely find a press release by say the NRA on gun issues being run in the MSM unchallenged.

I find that news article es... (Below threshold)
Drew:

I find that news article especially enlighting coming in the wake of this report. I guess since their favorite glacier isn't melting anymore, they have to look somewhere else.

Actually Paul, I'm sure the... (Below threshold)

Actually Paul, I'm sure the AP would run your hypothetical Halliburton press release verbatim. After all, they print every actual press release put out by Halliburton (or its wholly-owned subsidiary, the White House)

You'd better watch your bac... (Below threshold)
Halliburton:

You'd better watch your back, Don! You know too much!

I think it would be fine fo... (Below threshold)
mcg:

I think it would be fine for newspapers to reprint press releases as long as they label them as such and don't present them as news stories as they do here. Just print them verbatim along with a blurb about who or what the organization is.

Tell you what Don. You crea... (Below threshold)

Tell you what Don. You create a fake organization and start issuing "conservative" press releases, a la my suggestion above. I'll do mine. We'll see whose get passed into print more frequently and with less modification. The loser has to take a picture of himself in a thong, drenched in 10W30 motor oil, with a rawhide bone in his mouth, and post it on the Internet. I'm confident it would not be me.

Oops! Unfortunate timing f... (Below threshold)
crapbuffer:

Oops! Unfortunate timing for the WWF, with a recently released article discussing the record snowfall and accumulation of ice in Himalayan glaciers. See: http://www.whyinsure.com/text1/news-number-537.html

Their timing is starting to resemble Al Gore's, who managed to give a Global Warming speech in New York on one of the coldest days on record in New England, and a few months later gave another speech at Yale on April 15th as is was snowing in Tennessee. Hee-hee, gotta love it.

Sorry harky...I don't have ... (Below threshold)

Sorry harky...I don't have the $800 PR Newswire charges to get my press release into the papers. But that's ALL it takes.

As for the photos...well, if you're willing to substitute Astroglide for 40 Weight, we can do a swap right now, sugar...

Hey folks,This is ... (Below threshold)
Christopher:

Hey folks,

This is a very interesting topic. I believe that propaganda is alive and well here in the United States. I never trust news that is delivered in 30 second sound bites. I also believe that it's risky to believe that only one political party or ideology is capable of perpetuating fake news, or news with an agenda.

It's been proven that Clinton participated in developing fake news reports, but it's also true that powerful industries such as pharmecutical and biotech have produced fake news reports to bolster their stock value. Gov. Schwarzenegger and the Bush White House is producing fake news reports as well, causing a controversy that these are being funded with taxpayer money. These fake news pieces are called "video news releases," they are designed to look like legitimate news reports, and often the production source remains hidden, leading the viewer to believe that they are from bona fide news agences.

I think we can all agree that propaganda is harmful to democracy and has no place in the U.S. media. Let's not be naive and think that propaganda has only one ideological face.The Left/Right polemic is far too ill equipped to give us any thorough understanding of the complex dynamics occuring around the globe.

It's no longer enough to demand balance in the media. We've not only lost that, but we've lost all critical, in-depth analyis, discourse and debate. What we're left with is sensationalistic, shallow, and flawed journalism that is crippling American's chance at any informed, critical understanding of the world.

I want to thank the people running and contributing to this site. It is sites like these provide a forum for unfiltered dialogue and critique, a forum free from the influences of corporate or gov't agenda. This is the true meaning of democracy.

Um, nothing in the story is... (Below threshold)
Zen_more:

Um, nothing in the story is presented as "fact" - look at the headline "*Group warns* of shrinking glacial effect." (asteriks mine) So anyone would read this and has half a brain (I realize this lets out most of the posters here) would realize these are just claims by the WWF, with no attempt at fact checking. The AP does this with all kinds of groups, right, left and in alternate dimensions. You can argue whether the AP should be reporting claims without fact checking (if they fact checked everything, Bush's speeches would be covered with red ink) but to suddenly get all in a tizzy over a practice that is well-established is a bit disingenuous - unless of course, you just realized that groups that disagree with you get into print as well. The Horrors!

You're aware that Fox News ... (Below threshold)
SeesThrough:

You're aware that Fox News is a propaganda arm of the White House, running White House press releases--including all those ones that have been proven totally false--as "news" in this exact same fashion, yes? And that Fox even takes it one step further and doctors AP reports to utilize the White House's preferred wording--that's not news (pun intended) to you, right? I hope you've been pitching a similar fit over that ongoing occurrence, but somehow, I bet my hope for such across-the-board condemnation is ill-fated.

Paul,The AP report... (Below threshold)
r.a.:

Paul,

The AP reporter did basically do a cut and paste job from the WWF article, you're right. And the reporter did not corroborate any of it, or interview a "scientist who might disagree." But then, neither did you.

In fact, you did the very same thing he did. You posted the AP release, didnt read the original 70 page report, and then made the claim that it was all "environmental propaganda". You didnt provide any scientists who disagree either. You just put your own little political spin without looking into it any further. Nice job.

The report itself is a study to determine some of the effects of climate change in Nepal, India, and China. It's not about determining what causes climate change as much as assessing impacts. In fact the introduction states, "Climactic changes and its impacts on the fluctuation of glaciers are a natural phenomenon that has been occuring in the Earth's five billion-year-old-history" (1). It then goes on, "There are several problems associated with retreating glaciers that need to be understood in order to proceed to the next stage of quantifying research and mitigating disaster. In this context it would be imperative to understand the nature of problems that confront Nepal, India, and China" (3).

An environmentalist wakes up one morning and types up a "report" in the name of his "environmental group." They then fax that "report" to the media who runs it nearly verbatim. AKA Journalism by press release.

Actually, the report that is mentioned is a 70 page summary of three project reports from India, Nepal, and China. It wasnt something that some hippie just woke up and typed up this morning. Maybe if you downloaded the report and read through it a little you would have realized that. The AP reporter copied the article that was about the report, and probably didnt read it either.

I'm reading it now, so I cant really comment on what I agree or disagree with at this point.

WTF is wrong with you peopl... (Below threshold)
Satya:

WTF is wrong with you people? If Halliburton tommorow released an extensive scientific study that said oil would last 100 years then yes OF COURSE the media would print it. The article would have the headline "Haliburton claims oil will last 100 years", just as this headline says "Group warns of shrinking effect." In fact, the facts being reported by the AP are 100% accurate: there is this environmentalist group that claims that Himalayan glaciers are receding at an increasing rate.

Should the media have attempted to get a response from the microscopic minority of scientists - virtually all of whom are on the payroll of coal or oil industries - who still don't believe that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lead to global warming? I guess. It seems like these studies tend to get an initial free pass from criticism. If someone else comes out with a study showing these findings to be inaccurate, they'll get their day in the sun too - and the media probably won't even look into their funding, which will almost certainly be from oil and coal industries.

First of all, I will say I ... (Below threshold)

First of all, I will say I have no problem with the AP reprinting press releases. However, this particular article never actually says that this was a press release, even though 85% of it is copied from that press release. That implies it was original work, when it wasn't.

r.a.

I agree with you on some of your points. I read the first few pages of the report (although I don't have time to read the entire thing) and saw the sentance you mentioned. However, on the other hand, the press release in question says "WWF calls on all governments to recognize that global average temperature must stay below 2°C (3.6°F) in comparison to pre-industrial levels." Throughout the press release they imply that they believe this problem is mostly, if not completely caused by man.

The report wasn't just typed up by some "hippie" this morning. In fact, it may very well be a good, scientifically robust report. However, it does kind of look like the press release WAS typed up this morning by some "hippie" who has an agenda and probably didn't even bother to read the report in question.

skybird wrote:L... (Below threshold)
r.a.:

skybird wrote:

Looks to me like more of the same poppycock from the AP liars what else do you expect from them i mean they have become nothing more then propeganda for the eco-freaks pushing this global warming nonsense SQUAWK SQUARK dont ruffle my feathers greenpeace

Global warming and cooling happens, and has happened for a long time. It's not nonsense. How do you think ice ages occur? Global cooling. And how do you think that the last ice age ended? Global warming.

The real question is how much of an effect, if any, does human activity have upon the natural cycle of the eath's warming and cooling. It isnt an argument as to whether or not it occurs.

Raina:You brought ... (Below threshold)
r.a.:

Raina:

You brought up something very important, and I noticed it as well. The WWF release does make that statement. So I'm wondering about the relationship between the scientists who wrote the report, and the WWF.

The report wasn't just typed up by some "hippie" this morning. In fact, it may very well be a good, scientifically robust report. However, it does kind of look like the press release WAS typed up this morning by some "hippie" who has an agenda and probably didn't even bother to read the report in question.

I totally agree. It seems to me that the WWF is using the report as some type of evidence for humans causing climate change, when in fact its not about that at all. Its about effects. So I think the report is being misused. The AP reporter didnt read the report, and it looks like the WWF press release writer didnt either...or didnt care.

In the original post here there seemed to be a confusion between the "press release" and the actual report, and thats what I wanted to bring up. Paul seemed to be implying that the release was the "report."

You better google global wa... (Below threshold)
abunch of idiots:

You better google global warming....even your evnagelicals are freaking out. As a real scientist and noit phoney trumped by the fossil fuel lobby that you all suck up to...let make a little deal here.

I'll bet anybody on this thread that within two years Bush himself will be talking "crises". It's that real folks. Just watch and remember when they print the artical in the future on why the US sat on it's face and how big a tractor it took to pull it's collective head out...you'll remember this. You friggin idiots. the question is why do I have to live amonst a bunch of backward retards!

Dear "A Bunch of Idiots",</... (Below threshold)
r.a.:

Dear "A Bunch of Idiots",

Why would people listen to you or want to discuss anything with you when you resort to calling them "idiots" and "retards"?

Try providing information instead of insults, and you might be more successful.

#1) This is a practice tha... (Below threshold)

#1) This is a practice that is used on all manner of issues, no matter what political bent they might serve.

#2) Yahoo at least did better than you and posted a link to the WWF website that actually *has* the 70 page report to which this press release refers.

That website would be http://www.panda.org

And the report is a 2.7MB PDF file. You know.. just the thing some environmentalist can whip up overnight.

I am in the middle of readi... (Below threshold)
susan:

I am in the middle of reading "Fallen Angels" by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Michale Flynn wirtten in 1991. Science Fiction yes, but then again, so close to reality.

AP report or not, in my opinion Environmental Greens or 'mundanes' are causing harm to the planet because they are emotionally irrational and fear human advancement. As proof I offer comments made by "Abunch of Idiots"

AP does this all the time--... (Below threshold)
clarice:

AP does this all the time--And I have written to them about it to no effect. Fenton Communications represents the usual enviro and health wackos and their releases are regularly reprinted in full as news stories on AP.

Why doesn't someone get in ... (Below threshold)
Juan:

Why doesn't someone get in touch with Jennifer and have her offer some support for her claims? Wouldn't that put this issue--or at least this instance of it--to rest?

Re "idiots" post: a few wee... (Below threshold)

Re "idiots" post: a few weeks back I ran this cartoon on my blog. Someone posted a comment (on the Flickr site hosting the image, not my site) that I'd "better re-check my math - the polar caps will melt long before Social Security runs out". This is the level of individual you're dealing with here. They have no need to build a convincing argument, because their only obstacle to the prevalence of their POV is that you're too corrupt to see the (obvious) truth. Of course, this converts none but the converted, which only makes them more strident and 'more right'. And therefore less likely to persuade, which only makes them more strident....

WWF= World Wildlife Fund, n... (Below threshold)
Rick:

WWF= World Wildlife Fund, not World Wide Fund for Nature. Even the name/acronym of the press release is phony.

Why not get yourself on the... (Below threshold)
clarice:

Why not get yourself on the mailing list for, say Fenton Communications, and compare the pressers with the AP reports?.My guess is they'll print as much of them as news as space permits.It would be an interesting experiment, Wizbang.

Rick, do a bit of research ... (Below threshold)
Liberal Environmentalist Atheist:

Rick, do a bit of research before posting. The "phony" name is the legal name of the WWF (that's World Wildlife Fund, not professional wrestling for the truly knuckle-dragging out there).
See the following link:
http://www.panda.org/questions/user/response.cfm?hdnQuestionId=3620012246264

BTW, nobody but nobody gave a flying fuck about global warming 'till it became obvious that it might (gasp) cost money to fix or that (horrors) we couldn't drive Excretions to soccer practice forever. Then the science became "questionable" and "more study was needed".

Yep, global warming is inde... (Below threshold)

Yep, global warming is indeed happening. Just review data regarding the Martian polar ice caps over the time it has been collected.

That's what the AP is suppo... (Below threshold)
Liberal A-hole:

That's what the AP is supposed to do, among other things, report on press releases. If Halliburton had a newsworthy press release, which they do all the time, the AP reports it too.

It only shows bias if it neglects to add "WWF said" or "Halliburton said"

You can make the argument it's lazy, but it's not bias.

Come on people.

Ya know, there is probably ... (Below threshold)
hhz:

Ya know, there is probably no thing on Earth that brings a smile to my face more than watching you stick your heads in the sand. Ignorant, easily confused, and rapidly approaching your own demise - you proudly walk forward with no idea where you are going. As the summer sun bakes, insects swarm, and fires consume - remember that it wasn't god who did this - it was all you. Fortunately not all of us are like you, some of us are free enough to see what our species has done and informed enough to prove it.

Checking the comments above... (Below threshold)
Dave:

Checking the comments above, it looks like this was posted on Yahoo! Since I use Yahoo! as my homepage because of easy access to information that I get off the web (movies, e-mail, finance, sports), I have noticed over the past few years that Yahoo! top stories ("In The News" on the right-hand side of the homepage) is nothing but a clearlinghouse of left-wing press releases. Every single environmental story that's posted on the homepage is either a straight-up press release from an environmental group, or an environmental group is cited and linked to with the story. If any environmental study -- no matter how legitimate the researchers -- is published, I guarantee Yahoo! will post an article about it, and more than likely give it some time on the homepage. I have no doubt that the people who choose those top five to seven stories on the Yahoo! homepage have a left-wing slant. Publishing press releases like they're one of top 5 news items in the country pretty much proves my point.

A fascinating subject for someone else to run with would be a "Yahoo!Watch" that tracked this. I think Alpecca's weekly report on guns in the media is culled from Yahoo!, but I think tracking the homepage would be an even better scientific endeavor.

True debate is not really p... (Below threshold)
inmypajames:

True debate is not really possible on global warming because it is too close to a religion with its own articles of faith to those who blindly disregard any evidence that runs counter to what they believe. (See the above "you all are doomed to hell for your unbelief" post from hhz or the post from Lib Env Ath who isn't old enough, I guess, to remember that the doom du jour in the early 70s was the coming "ice age"). Global warming is too convenient a hook for the enviros to hang all their overwrought indictments of the evil human race and its bad, bad behavior. No questioning of the dogma is allowed or you are condemned as a heathen, unworthy of conversation. Witness what has happened to Bjorn Lomborg or Patrick Moore (one of the original founders of Greenpeace). Too much emotion and not enough science.

I refer you again to <a hre... (Below threshold)

I refer you again to my piece.

RE: Would a 'TheWorld Is Go... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

RE: Would a 'TheWorld Is Going To Die Tomorrow' press release from Greenpeace get published versus a 'Oil Will Last Forever' press release from Halliburton get published

Of course BOTH will get published, but the question is how will they treated by the media.

The Green piece (heh) will usually get presented as is with little or no substantive rebuttal.

The Halliburtonish piece will usually get presented with "Scare Quotes" and responses from Enviros and/or Democrat politicians.

Sometimes it's not just what the Media does, it's the way that they do it.

hmm, I got to this joke of ... (Below threshold)
wah:

hmm, I got to this joke of a post from Google News so, uh, wake up. You ARE the media.

Read the report. Ask a scientist. Report what you find. Leave the politics for politicians.

It needs to be acknowledged... (Below threshold)

It needs to be acknowledged that press manipulation is healthy on both sides of politics. If someone can get flustered about an AP line, then what are they thinking when they watch FOX news?

Far more disturbing to me is the use of faux-journalism-video-reports, aka TV press releases. Corporations, drug companies, and, obviously, politicians - see GB's administration- ALL send pre-packaged video feeds/videotapes to small market stations to promote their latest and greatest 'whatever.' Sometimes they're even complete and whole news reports that just get re-run untouched...

Far more manipulative is when they send out the report sans audio and let the local anchor shmuck complete the voice over from a prepared script, thereby blurring the line between propaganda and legitimate news even further.

I've even seen local reporters do stand-ups as inserts for these pre-packages. Karen Hughes had a habit of doing this... *ahem*

When Karl talks about "avoiding the filter," what exactly do you think he means? He wants the least path of resistance for his spin. Hitting those small markets with "free" news is a sly move. He shouldn't be using tax bucks for it though. Let one of the GOP's "ownership" dudes foot the bill, please. They should buy their own propaganda.

Anyway, get savvy, not indignant. You just look like a hypocrite.

I work from a fairly modera... (Below threshold)
mike:

I work from a fairly moderate, but pro-business economic group. I promise you, my counter at a union-funded think tank that does research has a lot more of their press releases reprinted on the AP wire than I do mine. It isn't because they write better releaeses or because their research is more sound (trust me, it isn't). The reason, is because reporters agree with their viewpoint. I've hade reporters tell me that on the phone. They are much more willing to reprint something they believe in than something that counters their worldview.

"When Karl talks about "avo... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"When Karl talks about "avoiding the filter," what exactly do you think he means? He wants the least path of resistance for his spin."

..or maybe he doesn't want his message to get 'spun' by someone else. That's not unreasonable, is it?

Here is the "crap" in the a... (Below threshold)
Luke:

Here is the "crap" in the article and I am surprised no one picked it out, they said the rapid melt would cause flooding first, then a reduction in flow and drought. Then in the next paragraph it states two places are seeing REDUCED water flow. If it was melting so fast where is the floods?
To those that posted "this is real folks" God you people are just stupid. You get a hot day and the sky is falling, you just do not understand weather, nor climate in a big picture.
Mt Penatubo when it erupted put up more Greenhouse gasses and soot that all of mankind did in the 20th century. In ONE explosion.

Hey guys,I'd have to... (Below threshold)
andy:

Hey guys,
I'd have to chime on on the side of the 'enviro-wackos.' We really, truely, are up the creek. And there are no paddles. The fact is that we have already gone past the point of no return.
There is no putting carbon dioxide back in the ground... the process that did this took hundreds of millions of years. Whenever you try to store carbon, you have to put the extremely voluminous solid or liquid product somewhere. In its most dense form, you would expect to end up with the same type of liquid (oil) that you pumped out of the ground in the first place. That would take significantly more energy than we could ever harness from any sort of non fossil fuel process (unless we work out fusion.) Global warming is a done deal. I'm glad to see that we have a reprieve in certain areas, but the net change in the positive is here and will be accelerating as the vegetative zones start faultering and we get a massive amount of carbon from desertified areas.
But, hey, I mean, since we have reached this point already, what harm is there in denying it? Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.

A different "news story" ca... (Below threshold)
Mark:

A different "news story" came out over the weekend. This one is about earlier blooming plants in New England. I have comments on my blog.

Andy:Except every ... (Below threshold)
James Stephenson:

Andy:

Except every year Farm Production increases.

And there are Glaciers that are expanding, but since they go against the grain and hurt the federal funding of certain groups you will never hear about it.

Give me one of the computer environmental simulations that can take us from 1990 to 2005 with some reasonable amount of success. There is not one, taken from 1900 the current models have us about 5 degrees hotter than we currently are.

UUUUMMMMMMM....did you guys... (Below threshold)
aaronpacy:

UUUUMMMMMMM....did you guys see the latest picture of Mt. Kilimanjaro?????

...did you guys see the ... (Below threshold)

...did you guys see the latest picture of Mt. Kilimanjaro?????

Assume we didn't. Post a link.




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