Herald swiftly rights wrong

The NZ Herald yesterday covered our suit against NIWA. But the heading was:

Global warming sceptics accuse Niwa of temperature deception

And the first paragraph said:

“A group of global warming sceptics has accused Niwa of deception over the issue…”

But this wasn’t true. Our suit says nothing about NIWA’s motivation in producing errors in the national temperature record, much less accuses them of deception.

I emailed Abby Gillies, the reporter:

Hi Abby,

Thanks for covering the Coalition’s suit against NIWA. I should complain, though, about your allegation: “A group of global warming sceptics has accused Niwa of deception over the issue…”

That is not the case. We don’t use the word deception anywhere. I don’t think we make any comment about the motivation that might have led NIWA to make mistakes with the temperature record.

I would appreciate a retraction at your earliest opportunity.

Cheers,
Richard Treadgold,
Climate Conversation Group.

Lucy replied a few hours later.

Good afternoon Richard, your email to Abby Gillies has been passed to me for a response.
We have considered the points you have made in the email regarding the use of the word deception in the introduction to our story yesterday and think you have a fair point in that the word implies some intent, which is not present.
We will publish a clarification and transmit it on our news wire with an advisory that any publications that used our original story should carry the clarification.
I trust this is satisfactory.
It’s a fascinating case so far and it will be interesting to see what the outcome will be.
Thanks for your interest in our coverage of the hearing.
Regards,

Lucy Bennett
Filing editor
APNZ News Service

In a cute postscript to this little story, the Herald outdid itself.

I went back to the article for this posting and saw that, while they’d changed the body, they’d overlooked the headline. It still contained the word “deception”.

Did I get angry? No. I emailed Lucy: “I’ve spotted the changes. That’s brilliant, thanks. Would you care to remove the word deception from the headline, please? It’s quite prominent.”

Lucy, bless her, not only obliged, but her reply hit my desk not 60 seconds after I had pressed Send. When I immediately reloaded the Herald story the headline had been changed.

Outstanding.

I’m happy to praise them on this occasion for fairness and promptness beyond the call of duty, though I have often criticised them for their oddly dismissive attitude towards the scientific examination of global warming.

4 Thoughts on “Herald swiftly rights wrong

  1. Doug Proctor on July 18, 2012 at 7:03 am said:

    How clearly this story shows that the news media is looking for grab-you points, not facts: news coverage is about excitement, drama and entertainment. And education, if there is room to be filled.

  2. Richard C (NZ) on July 18, 2012 at 8:56 am said:

    Good work keeping the story real RT, and a commendable response.

    Amazing how the choice of a word makes all the difference – words have power.

  3. Richard C (NZ) on July 18, 2012 at 9:10 am said:

    New headline:-

    Niwa breaching its duties with figures – sceptics group

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10820276

    I would have thought “climate science” group rather than “sceptics” group given the “CS” in NZCSET but that might be asking too much concession from the seller.

  4. Richard C (NZ) on July 18, 2012 at 9:24 am said:

    The body of the report seems to resume normal reporting duties.

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