On the Misinformation about WattsUpWithThat from the Society of Environmental Journalists

Judith Curry published an interesting blog post titled ‘Denier’ blogs. It includes an article by the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) titled Staying up-to-date on climate news.  The SEJ’s willingness to classify websites with terms like denier is telling.  Then again, what else would one expect from environment journalists?

WattsUpWithThat is listed under the heading of News from the Climate Wars. The SEJ writes:

Watts Up With That is one of the more civil and well-read of the denier blogs. It is not reliable as a source of factual information. It does not disclose its funding sources. Anthony Watts, its proprietor, has worked as a broadcast weatherman for years but has no degree.

Hmm, “not a reliable source of factual information.”  Many of Anthony’s posts are press releases for scientific papers.  Are the SEJ saying the press releases or the papers are not factual?  Anthony’s posts also include discussions of factual errors made by environmental journalists. A recent example is EPIC weather reportng FAIL at International Business Times, in which Anthony commented on an article that claims a tropical storm in the Pacific caused deaths in North Carolina.  I wonder if the author of that IBT article is a member of the SEJ.

I am a regular contributor at WattsUpWithThat.  I present data, and occasionally I present climate model outputs. We all understand that climate models are not “factual information”—they’re computer-aided conjecture.  Are the SEJ stating that data are not factual information?

With respect to funding, the SEJ’s claim that WattsUpWithThat “does not disclose its funding sources” suggests the research capabilities of the SEJ are lacking.  Anthony addresses this on his FAQs webpage in response to the question “Are you paid to blog?”  The first paragraph of Anthony’s answer reads:

No. There are some people who have this idea that because I put so much effort into WUWT that I must be on somebody’s payroll and that my stories are “pay for play” or something like that. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being a broadcaster, the surest way to kill a career is to run afoul of the FCC’s payola laws, and because I see blogging as just another style of broadcasting, I’d never consider “pay for play”.  Besides, most people don’t know how I abhor “dead air”, be it on radio, TV, or in blogging. I’m self motivated to keep it interesting and fresh. Plus, WUWT’s reach gives me a larger sense of purpose.

I can also state that I receive no funding for my research and blogging efforts.  I do have limited income from book sales and from tips/donations, though.

The SEJ also broadcasts their limited grasp of reality with their laughable comments about SkepticalScience:

Skeptical Science is a blog that aims to reclaim the true principal of scientific skepticism from the climate-change deniers who have misappropriated the term. It systematically examines and rebuts the myths commonly circulated by the deniers. It is published by physicist John Cook, Climate Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland — along with more than a dozen contributors from across the globe. It is translated into many languages. It is unaffiliated and runs on volunteer labor and donations.

Oy vey!

Near the end of her post, Judith Curry notes:

As far as I can tell, the SEJ is a reputable organization.  However, I find much of their article to be rather appalling.  Not to mention the fact that they left out a number of good blog sources, that are arguably better than DeepClimate no matter which side of the climate debate you sit on.

Judith was being kind with “appalling”.

About Bob Tisdale

Research interest: the long-term aftereffects of El Niño and La Nina events on global sea surface temperature and ocean heat content. Author of the ebook Who Turned on the Heat? and regular contributor at WattsUpWithThat.
This entry was posted in CAGW Proponent Arguments. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to On the Misinformation about WattsUpWithThat from the Society of Environmental Journalists

  1. Alan Sexton says:

    Thank you, and well stated sir. I interpreted Judith Curry’s article as a deviation from her typical objectivity, and the fallacy that either SEJ or “Skeptical Science” are objective intellectually insulting.

  2. Janice Moore says:

    Nice, well-written, summary exposing SEJ’s blatant mischaracterization of Anthony Watts and his excellent science and “puzzling things” site, Bob Tisdale. They have only damaged their own reputation for scientific integrity.

    Good for you to step up to the plate and say something. Home run!

  3. joefreeman says:

    When I worked as a journalist, back when Global Warming wasn’t yet a nefarious gleam in Hansen’s eye, this SEJ article would never have seen the light of day — and the author would have received a remedial crash course in journalistic ethics. If the author was lucky, they’d keep their job to write another day.

    This SEJ tripe and the backlash regarding Reuters’ perceived change from a pro-CAGW stance just show how far journalism has fallen.

  4. “The SEJ’s willingness to classify websites with terms like denier is telling. Then again, what else would one expect from environment journalists?” It seems that should be ‘self promoted environmental journalists’. After all, the use of a pejorative epithet to denigrate what should be seen as fair comment is more along the lines of political hackery.

  5. Lars P. says:

    Interesting, did he (John Cook) finish his physics study? Previously I remember it was said he interrupted it.

  6. Bob Tisdale says:

    Lars P., which physics study by John Cook?

  7. Lars P. says:

    ” It is published by physicist John Cook” says the text, and at his site he says:
    “Skeptical Science is maintained by John Cook, the Climate Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland. He studied physics at the University of Queensland, Australia. After graduating, he majored in solar physics in his post-grad honours year.”

  8. Sorry, what’s the credibility distinction between the Society of Environmental Journalists and, say, the National Tarot Card Reader’s Association?

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