Are we being ethical about Climate Change? Or is it just another ‘False balance’ tactic?


The debate of global warming has been going on for a long time, and the media has always been a part of this debate. You wonder how many people have heard of climate change through other sources or just receive all their knowledge about climate change from the media?  The majority of people don’t sit down on their computers researching global warming and looking through journal articles, and I can’t say I have either. However my knowledge of global warming does not just come from the media. Throughout school and science class I learnt about global warming and my opinion of global warming has developed from this. I still listen and read what the media says about global warming but I don’t rely completely on their opinion.

Global warming is just another topic journalist have to be careful with when presenting information on it. This all falls under journalism ethics, ‘Seek truth and report it’ (Ward, 2009).

The reporting of Climate Change within the media brings about the concept of ‘false balance’. Journalists may seem like they are demonstrating a fair debate on climate change however this is can be a perception as sometimes both sides are not actually equally distributed.

“Providing space disproportionate to its scientific credibility to perspectives running counter to what is now widely accepted as the ‘established’ scientific judgment”(Ward, 2009).

False balance’ can affect individuals and from this the idea of ‘Voice for the voiceless’ is brought about. The citizens of the small Island Kiribati are experiencing firsthand the effects of climate change. Their stories are not widely known due to ‘false balance’ reporting in journalism. The idea of ‘voice for the voiceless’ is allowing individuals such as those from Pacific Small Island States to be heard and the problems that have occurred due to climate change are then brought to the forefront.

The constant debate of whether climate change exists or not continues and the media constantly ignites these debates with what they publish.  Tim Dean a Philosopher at University New South Wales quoted in his article on journalism and climate change, “Rather than covering climate change as a very real and very probable catastrophe, much of the discussion in the media still revolves around debates over its very existence” (Dean, 2013).


So in saying this, is the way journalists report Climate Change ethical? Are we being shown the real problem or are we seeing only one side?



Ward, B, 2009, ‘Journalism ethics and climate change reporting in a period of intense media uncertainty’, accessed from reading

Dean, T, 2013, ‘A Question of ethics: journalists and climate change’, The Conversation, accessed at,


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