SEJ Puts "Ultimate Rolodex," Other Climate Coverage Tools, on Web

January 31, 2007

As the climate change story heats up, environmental reporters across the country (not merely at national media) may find themselves writing about global warming, how it affects their audience, what's causing it, and what can be done about it. Few subjects that environmental reporters cover are subject to more distortion, misinformation, and manipulation by political and economic interest groups trying to control the message to advance their own agendas.

At times like this, a good source you can trust to tell unbiased truth is worth their weight in gold. A Rolodex full of them - well, that's like Fort Knox, especially when you need a quote from an expert on deadline.

SEJ's Web site today unveils a special reporters' resource section devoted to climate - "Climate Change: A Guide to the Information and Disinformation." It is drawn from the Rolodexes, notebooks, and background files of some of the top reporters in the business.

This climate information guide is, and will remain, a work in progress, to be updated, improved, and corrected as events unfold over the coming year or more. We have tried to make it as good as we can and will keep working to make it better. Please e-mail any suggestions or feedback. SEJ reserves the right to make decisions on its content.

Not all "information" about climate is created equal, and not all claims about climate science are soundly based on scientific methods, reasoning, and evidence. In fact, interest groups on many sides of the issue have tried to confuse the public about scientific findings, in order to advance their own agendas.

Our list of scientist-sources gravitates toward those who are currently very active as researchers in fields directly related to climate change, who have been recognized as prominent experts by their peers, who do not have ties to groups with financial or ideological stakes in climate issues, who can explain climate findings to a lay audience, and who are likely to be willing to talk to reporters.

We feel that, when journalists cite a source, they can serve their audiences by transparently giving as much information about the source as practical - information bearing on the affiliation, background, qualifications, and possible bias of that source. SEJ's climate information guide will keep trying to include as much of this kind of information as possible. When available, for example, we will give links to a scientist's curriculum vita and list of publications.

The so-called "disinformation" campaign is part of this story, and we have included links telling the story of efforts to manipulate public opinion, and the media, by spreading false or misleading information and suppressing accurate and reliable information. It is our effort to help environmental reporters avoid unthinkingly accepting "wooden nickels" - and there are a lot of them in circulation.

We've included not only the phone numbers of scientists, but a very good collection of some of the best institutional sources of information. We have grouped these in categories we hope will help users understand the strengths and limitations of each source.