As far as explainers go, I thought this Guardian piece discussing possible links between climate change and extreme weather was pretty good. What’s interesting to me is that it was written by Bob Ward, the policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. It’s part of a larger Guardian series called, “The Ultimate Climate Change FAQ.”
Let’s leave aside the questionable decision to let a PR person author an important article on a complex climate science question. (I’d rather see a Guardian staffer’s byline on such an article, preferably one who has written on climate change.) I’m not sure if this blurring of the line is a Guardian quirk or reflective of the UK’s journalism culture.
Regardless, if this journalistic collaboration between the Guardian and a
n NGO mission-oriented center is acceptable practice, then I think the Guardian should consider also collaborating with other similar entities organizations, like the Science Media Center. Perhaps the Guardian can start a new explainer series called, “The Ultimate GMO FAQ.” And Fiona Fox, the Science Media Center’s executive director, can author factual articles on biotechnology and genetically modified crops.
Seems like a logical extension, right?
UPDATE: The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment is “a university research centre,” Bob Ward corrects me on Twitter. Ward holds the same title for the Center for Climate Change Economics and Policy, which states: On
Our mission it to advance public and private action on climate change through rigorous, innovative research into economics and policy.
On Twitter, Ward asks me: “So what’s your gripe then?”
I dont really have a gripe. I’m suggesting that the person who does PR for a mission-based outfit such as his probably shouldn’t be doing journalism for the Guardian unless it’s labeled as commentary. But since he is, why not open the door to other mission-based outfits that also aim to inform the public about scientific facts?