It cannot be often in the annals of journalism that several hundred "news outlets from around the world" sign up for a propaganda campaign and then proclaim that they have done so.
But this is what has happened over the past few months ever since the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), The Nation, and various climate activists got together in April to launch the "biggest effort ever undertaken to organise the world's press around a single topic", as a statement from the CJR put it. The undertaking is to "transform the news media" so as to "get this story right".
The "story" in question is that "climate change" is a "runaway train" racing towards us as "the world burns" and "civilisation accelerates towards disaster". This, so we are told, is not "alarmism", but "scientific fact". The purpose of the get-together was "to devise a new playbook for journalism that's compatible with the 1.5 degree future that scientists say must be achieved".
The "participating outlets" include Bloomberg, Agence France-Presse, the British Guardian, and the Mail and Guardian (M&G) and Daily Maverick in South Africa. Anyone perusing the last two of these would have noticed their extensive coverage of the United Nations (UN) climate action conference in New York last month in accordance with their commitment to "covering climate now".
The M&G's coverage across twelve pages was headed "climate crisis". The paper said that more than 300 publications had now committed themselves to covering "the climate crisis". One of its articles warned against the "alarming number" of videos on YouTube contradicting "the scientific consensus" and promoting "climate change denial". These offending videos racked up "a huge number of views". Nor was this the first time a tech company had propagated "bad science".
According to a statement put out by the CJR, one of the objectives of the campaign is to rectify the "false balance between the views of genuine scientists" and those of "paid corporate mouthpieces". The British magazine The Economist, which ran a 39-page report on "the climate issue" at the time of the UN conference, had a few weeks earlier denounced anyone seeking to "propagate an alternative reality in which climate science is always contestable" as "junk scientists".