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Climate Change: Objectivity vs. Scientific Accuracy

Reporters, editors and professors involved with the coverage of climate change speak out about key reporting issues. Their words will resonate with journalism students, no doubt spurring vigorous discussion.

At the heart of climate change coverage resides an inherent tension; on one hand, the "objective" reporter strives to "balance" varying perspectives (a sort of he said/she said reporting of the debate); on the other hand, there is the journalistic obligation to seek the "truth," as the reporter is able to ascertain it, and then to present a scientifically accurate news account.

With climate change prominently in the news, this collection of Nieman Reports stories—exploring this tension and offering guidance on how to approach reporting on climate change—is an excellent resource for students. Along with the individual articles, the full collection can be read as an online magazine in our multimedia eMprint edition; in Daniel Grossman's article, the voices of those he interviewed for his radio stories can be heard. Our offering also includes an online-only article highlighting books by environmental journalists written by Bud Ward. According to a July 2009 Pew Research Center survey, fewer than half of Americans believe the Earth is warming because of the burning of fossil fuels and other human activity, while 84 percent of scientists believe this to be true. At such a time, finding ways to report well on this critical and highly politicized topic is essential.