More on Stuff’s climate change conversation control

Not surprisingly there has been a lot of discussion on Stuff’s decision to exclude climate change “scepticism” from articles and discussions. See Anti-climate change comments no longer allowed.

I linked to that post on Twitter and got this response:

In political debates ‘ignorance’ and ‘differing views’ are often confused. There seems to be increasing attempts to shut down discussion at variance to one’s political view – this is common from political activists, but when major media like Stuff do it, it becomes alarming.

A key quote from Stuff:

Mature adults can disagree about the impact of climate change and how we should react. We’ll feature a wide range of views as part of this project, but we won’t include climate change “scepticism”. Including denialism wouldn’t be “balanced”; it’d be a dangerous waste of time. The experts have debunked denialism, so now we’ll move on.

I think it is alarming that they implied that “scepticism” of an issue as reliant on science as climate change would be excluded. Scepticism is a fundamental tenet of science.

Using the term ‘denialism’ is also a concern – that is often used to dismiss any arguments that question and aspects of climate change and action to mitigate it.

It reminds me of people holding religious power condemning anyone who doesn’t by their dictates unquestioningly.

We welcome robust debate about the appropriate response to climate change, but do not intend to provide a venue for denialism or hoax advocacy. That applies equally to the stories we will publish in Quick! Save the Planet and to our moderation standards for reader comments.

Certainly “hoax advocacy” and arguments that aren’t based on facts or commonly accepted science should not be supported, but Stuff implies they are going much further than that.

Adam Smith:  Stuff admits it is a biased rag and not a newspaper

This is totally disgraceful. A newspaper now saying it will censor any views that differ from the viewpoint it chooses to advocate for.

It means that all stories in Stuff should be read as opinions not as fact. It means their journalists are advocates, not reporters.

Whilst this may well have been the case for many years, their blatant disregaard for alternative views, especially in such a public way is very concerning.

Yet Stuff  should be applauded as well for openly stating their bias, but will they clearly state that bias when publishing articles on climate issues?

Clearly, they will not publish climate sceptical articles. In that regard it could well be argued, they are failing in a publication’s duty to hold authority to account.

That was also discussed at Reddit:

Stuff has a terrible comment section which does not encourage proper discourse, does not have adequate moderation against hate speech or racism, uses a completely pointless and easily rigged voting system, and only requires an email address to post anonymously.

For a news agency these are appalling standards in my opinion. As a news agency you should be holding yourself to certain standards when it comes to reporting the news and yet those standards are completely disregarded when it comes to their social media aspect. Why? Why work so hard on reporting in a quality fashion just to have all your readers scroll down to an absolute cesspit of a message board after they read the article and risk having that as their parting impression? Why open comments to controversial subjects when you’re well aware most people are just going to announce their opinion regardless of what your article has just said? Why claim you stand up for things you care about but allow users to post vile comments? Why close comments on hugely important but non-controversial issues?

Well, we know why. You don’t actually care. You want to retain visitors as long as possible and you know that engagement is the key and you clearly don’t give a fuck how they go about it. And this stand, this stand against climate deniers, is your attempt to try and claw back some iota of self-respect.

Your peers are closing their comment sections because they know it has failed miserably.

Like countless other news outlets, NPR found itself overwhelmed by trolls, anonymous contributors who had too often hijacked comment threads with offensive and inappropriate submissions.

Wise-up, Stuff.

I linked to my pos

Stuff seem to be limiting their coverage and discussion to “the appropriate response to climate change”. What an appropriate response is should still be very much up for discussion, and that should allow for questioning the responses that some advocate – some extreme responses are advocated by some, like rapidly eliminating the use of fossil fuels and halting meat production. Counter arguments should be allowed.