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Posts Tagged ‘bad journalism

Shoddy journalism by Sagarika Ghose on Global Warming

with 29 comments

Last night on her Twitter account, Indian journalist Sagarika Ghose posted the following:

Is even the science of climate change dodgy? is there any evidence that CO2 is bad for us? who says the climate’s changing for the worse?

I am not sure where to begin parsing the statement, which displays either a stunning naivete or a sly dishonesty  calculated to get people charged up. Either way, it is quite appalling.

Actually, what is really appalling is the way she then goes about trying to prove her point.

Considering she works for CNN-IBN, which must to their disposal have at least one computer connected to this technology called the internet, where there exists these sites called Google and Bing that can be used to quickly search any topic. Not to mention that she must have at her disposal some sort of a research team, or the ability to get in touch with the relevant specialists for researching.

But what does she do when called for evidence of her statement? She retweets from some other guy offering up Bjorn Lomborg, the thoroughly discredited Danish academic as her source for anti-climate change (e.g see this, this or this).

If you are going to argue such a controversial issue, it pays not to be lazy – not to mention incredibly lame – enough as to cite Lomborg as your anti-climate change source! Heck, she could have even gone the Dubner-Levitt pathway given it has been on the news so much recently!  This is just stupendously shoddy journalism.

I have no problems with Ghose formulating a question for a proper debate – after all it is a supposedly free country with freedom of speech (though one of her contemporaries at least, has some sort of a problem with the definition of free speech, but we will let that go for now). However, it is inexcusable that she goes forth and makes statements that could be proven to be laughably false with the most perfunctory research.

Could it be that she is simply indulging in cheap sensationalism to improve ratings of her news channel? Quite possible given that she framed her question in the context of India’s role in reducing green house emissions, and whether

we [are] about to retard our industrial development because of america’s demands that we cut carbon emissions? (link)

Trying to whip up a bit of nationalist pride and sentiments against the US does no harm to ratings.  Statements such as, “Interesting point raised last night: our problem is poverty, not climate. lets first get rich, then we can go green.” are lame but sure to be a hit with the masses. Even then, it is  rather sad what she does to a complex discourse.

Consider that most die-hard skeptics now agree that climate change is real, and there is even a major consensus regarding the anthropogenic contribution to climate change. But how to solve the issue is however a highly charged debate involving as it does socio-economics and politics of a wide variety of country. For Ghose to reduce such complexity to levels stooped by the likes of Fox News and cronies is an incredible low.

(Thanks to Sakshi for many of the links)

update: Found this link with an incredible amount of resources to satisfy anyone’s climate change questions. I am not asking Ghose or anyone to absolutely agree with everything said here, but at least the person should argue on some intellectual basis.

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1. On these lines, it is quite unfortunate that TV journalism in India has been reduced to screeching hosts and overexcited, juvenile on-site reporter.s Ghose is married to Rajdeep Sardesai, whose histrionics during the Mumbai bombings were rightly criticized. Much has also been said about the media’s culpability during the 26/11 siege of Mumbai.

2. On a lighter note, Ghose’s naive question “ is there any evidence that CO2 is bad for us?” reminds me of Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachman trying to argue that global warming is of no concern because carbon-dioxide is natural and causes no harm!!

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Written by BongoP'o'ndit

October 21, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Post-colonial angst

with 7 comments

Post-colonial angst (brought up during a conversation by GreatBong ): Defined as the post-modern flip-side of colonial hangover; an inability to shed the smug sense of superiority from the colonial days of the British Empire. And this TimesOnline article by Kevin Eason about Tata’s bid for Jaguar and LandRover takeovers (briefly mentioned in the previous post) is but one example.

It must have taken Mr Eason an incredible amount of will-power to steer clear of Soministic tendencies [1], but that doesn’t stop him from indulgence in pointless nostalgia for symbolisms of the British Empire (someone tell him we have turned a new century) and criticisms of Tata that are at best dubious.

For example, he says:

The disposal of Jaguar and Land Rover by Ford is just another sign that the sun has not only set on the British Empire but the lights have gone out as well. Ford may have been an American multinational company, but its long history and substantial presence here always made it feel as though the two charismatic brands had stayed within our grasp. But Ford’s hopeless inability to manage Jaguar, in particular, has served to underline that the world is looking to the East for its salvation.

Translation: we can be comfortable with foreign ownership, as long as it is American, but going East is a far too much ! The next passage is far more staggering in its alienation from reality:

At least under Ford the two Midlands-based companies could be promised an interchange of high-technology, design ideas and talent with their parent business. But what will Tata bring except for size? Precious little, probably,

Strange statement to make, given that Ford possibly has the worst record for technology innovation in recent times. Further, a global company like Tata with its involvement in seven business sectors (not to mention neat 100 products) has ‘precious little’ to offer ? This is bordering on churlishness. But he keeps harping on the technology issue :

If Tata is buying the badges in a postimperialist bout of muscle-flex-ing, they could be making a huge mistake. Meanwhile, the factory workers in Solihull and Birmingham must be wondering what brilliant ideas will come from a manufacturer whose only headline-grabbing vehicle is a car that comes at the price of about four iPhones.

This is simply hitting blow the timing belt. If the author cannot merit the necessity of technical nuance in producing a cheap car, he could at least refrain from indulging in meaningless comparisons. The only way four iPhones could help in transporting you is if you called a taxi with one of them!!

Lest anyone accuse me of narrow nationalism or double standards on crying-wolf etc, the reason this article pissed me off was the total lack of logic or reasonable arguments. I care little for who owns Jaguar and Land Rovers (personally I wouldn’t touch either of the cars with a barge pole) and Tata’s ownership will not find me in a chest-thumping mode [2]. There are enough sound financial reasons for Tata to steer clear off this deal. Yet sadly, the article is based solely on prejudices and exposes the inability of its British author to stomach a new reality.

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[1]: Which is not to say Somini Sengupta isn’t picking up the mantle herself to churn out more drivel.

[2]: However, the symbolisms cannot be avoided. An Indian owning flagship British companies, Tata owning some of the most expensive, as well as the cheapest car etc.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

January 11, 2008 at 8:05 pm