I read a disturbing, though unsurprising report this morning. It’s from the Union of Concerned Scientists and has to do with climate change. Since this is a business blog we won’t get into the politics of that issue. I will, however, use my bully pulpit to remind you that unlike many of the challenges we face, money or power won’t buy you a different planet on which to live so you won’t have to deal with Earth’s climate.
Back to business. The report looked at the three main cable news channels and the scientific accuracy of the statements they made with respect to climate change. This is important since CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC are the most widely watched cable news networks in the United States, and their coverage of climate change is an important source of information for the public and for policy makers. Thirty-eight percent of American
adults watch cable news and cable news coverage of climate science often reflects and reinforces people’s perceptions of the science, as the report states. What did they find?
Using specified criteria, we determined whether the individual segments identified dealt with climate science and whether the portrayal of climate science was consistent with the best available scientific evidence at the time of broadcast. Of the CNN segments that mentioned climate science, 70 percent were entirely accurate, while 30 percent included misleading portrayals of the science. Of the Fox segments that mentioned climate science, 28 percent were entirely accurate, while 72 percent included misleading portrayals of the science. Of MSNBC segments that mentioned climate science, 92 percent were entirely accurate, while 8 percent included misleading portrayals of the science.
My point here isn’t to promote to bash one network over another. If you’re making business (or other) decisions based on what you hear from a particular source, you might be missing quite a bit of information. Even worse, as this study shows, you may have quite a bit of wrong or misleading information. If the most accurate network got a bunch of critical information right only 92% of the time, how accurate can your facts be if they come from any single source?
Facts matter. Just because a news organization (or a bright consultant) tells you something doesn’t make it factually accurate. When a few independent sources do so, you’re probably on solid ground. That’s the place we need to find. Are you coming with me?
I meant to write about a something I read a couple of weeks ago and of course I forgot about it. Better late than never, hopefully.
The piece was a blog published by NPR about readership of media outlet websites. As it turns out, users are turning to websites belonging to cable TV news ahead of websites for newspapers. I wasn’t really surprised but it raised a thought I’d like to share and about which I’d like to get your take. Continue reading
Suppose you went to the supermarket today to buy some vegetables but when you went to pay you were told you had to buy soda as well. The store manager (who you demanded to see, of course) calmly lets you know that the store doesn’t make enough margin on vegetable sales alone while they make a ton on soda so they’ve bundled them together. It’s a financial decision, and the fact that you don’t really drink much soda isn’t their problem. They won’t sell you one without the other. Ridiculous? Maybe for groceries. But you’ve been doing this for years. Continue reading
I try to take a break each day and eat lunch away from the computer. Generally I turn on CNN and try to catch up on the news that my RSS reader hasn’t brought me (which isn’t much, actually).
I was watching yesterday when a piece came on by Elizabeth Cohen, who writes an “empowered patient” column on CNN.com and has just released a book by the same name. It was frightening, frankly, but it also sparked an immediate business thought which I’d like to share. Continue reading
Today marks the 30th anniversary of CNN going on the air. It’s hard (OK, impossible if you’re under 35 or so) to think of a time when the news wasn’t 24/7 but until CNN came along, you had to wait for Uncle Walter or Huntley/Brinkley to tell you what had happened on TV. Maybe you picked up the afternoon paper to see what had happened as late as that morning.
In a strange way, this day 30 years ago sort of marks the start of the world as we know it today. Everything is RIGHT NOW and non-stop and that was CNN from minute one. I remember watching it as it came on the air (it was a Sunday). Ted Turner put it on the air with a sense of global unity – much the same spirit he tried to foster through The Goodwill Games – and there is no question that the world is a smaller place because of the proximity CNN brings to everything (full disclosure – Turner, though not CNN, is a client).
The notion of the 24/7 news cycle was born on that day and Twitter is just its latest incarnation. CNN itself has gone through a number of transformations and I think they still do a great job of bringing the news in real-time across a lot of platforms both TV and digital (their inauguration coverage last year across multiple channels was spectacular). Dissolving borders between nations and between you and information – not a bad way to spend 30 years.
Happy birthday and many more!
It’s Monday. A new work week. Maybe a fresh start? Probably not, at least not unless you’re thinking and trying new things. When was the last time you broke a media habit and watched a different outlet’s news? Glued to CNN all day? How about MSNBC or Fox? Same stories, maybe, but VERY different perspectives, and that other lens might change your thinking. Continue reading