A False Balance

Media and climate change is both a global issue and heated debate. It requires us to think global and act local. Our experience of climate change is highly mediated (Cottle 2011).

Climate change in Australian media focuses on political conflict, policy, taxation, pundits, commentators and politicians. What caught my attention was the theory of “false balance”. According to Ward (2009:14) reporters may for too have been balancing opinions about science when in fact they might better have been evaluating and reporting evidence based on the science.

The Australian Parliament’s climate change website (http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/Browse_by_Topic/ClimateChange/uncertainityAndScepticism) offers a few paragraphs on uncertainty and skepticism on the subject.What comes to my attention is that at no point does it mention the media having any influence over what the majority of the public is lead to believe. The closest they get to this is referring to ‘public misconception’


Media coverage of climate change has had noticeably significant effects of the public’s opinion on climate change. The media are very important players in cli­mate change communication – most people do not read sci­entific reports, spe­cialist web­sites and blogs, or the reports of the IPCC. Although in theory, the ‘facts’ of cli­mate change sci­ence should be reported in a straight­for­ward way by news­pa­pers and tele­vi­sion net­works, con­sid­er­able dif­fer­ences exist between the edit­orial lines taken by dif­ferent media organ­isa­tions about the reality and ser­i­ous­ness of cli­mate change.

Clash of civilizations

The Clash of Civilizations is a theory proposing that people’s cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post cold war world. The theory was originally formulated in 1992. As Huntington suggests, “The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural”. This theory is informed by ‘cultural essentialism’. It relies on an Orientalist opposition between East and West and focuses our attention on boundaries and containers rather than complex patterns of flow.

Media capitals, though particularly difficult to confine to one definition, are rather sites of mediation, locations where complex forces and flows interact. They are neither bounded not self-contained entities (Curtin 2003). Image


The features of media capitals comprise of contemporary television, new patterns of flow and flows emanating from particular states. 
Contemporary television is transcending frontiers and disrupting conventional structures of domination.
New patterns of flow are not multilateral in the conventional sense; they do not involve the exchange of programming between sovereign states. Flows emanate from particular states that have become centers for the finance, production and distribution of television programs – cities such as Bombay, Cairo and Hong Kong.  
Media capitals are places where things come together. As a consequence of this connectivity, the generation and circulation of new mass culture forms become possible (Curtin 2003).