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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Chronicle Probably Won't Ban Climate Change Deniers, Despite Petition

Posted By on Thu, Dec 5, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Them's the facts - CREDOMOBILIZE.COM
  • Them's the facts

Although the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial policy is nuanced as most every other American newspaper, it does hold a handful of prohibitions as a point of pride.

You won't find the phrases "illegal immigrants" or "Washington Redskins" on its pages -- unless, or course, they slip by via wire copy. The paper also has strict guidelines on abortion terms -- it won't characterize Ross Foti as a "pro-life" activist, for example; it also has a boilerplate policy against hate speech, slurs, and general mean-spiritedness.

It will not, however, issue a fatwa against those climate change skeptics.

This marginal but pernicious group has become a White Whale for Berkeley author Steve Olson, who has launched an aggressive campaign to persuade mainstream newspapers to stop "reporting both sides." His new online petition, which garnered more than 1,700 signatures in about two weeks, urges the Chronicle to stop validating these "misguided conspiracy theorists" by allowing them to traipse through its letters section.

" 'reporting both sides' and giving climate change deniers equal space to promote their lies, large swaths of the news media have failed to do their job of informing their viewers," Olson explains in the petition abstract. He points out that the Los Angeles Times has a "forward-thinking policy" of expunging letters to the editor from climate change deniers, but it's an exception among news vessels.

And according to Chron editorial page editor John Diaz, San Francisco's hometown paper is unlikely to follow suit.

"There are many gradations and positions on climate change," Diaz told SF Weekly, explaining that some people might accept the premise that global warming is caused by humans, but not understand the magnitude. Others might cast doubt on current scientific opinions without outright repudiating them. Such skeptics might have a very well-articulated and thought-out point of view, Diaz says, even if they're well in the minority.

"I would say it's very unlikely at this point that we'd have a blanket prohibition," he concludes. "Certainly, if you look at our editorial position, it's been very emphatic that [climate change] is human-caused."

"I don't think you can in any way suggest we're giving aid and comfort to the deniers," Diaz says.

To those in doubt, he says, read the editorial page this Sunday.

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About The Author

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan was a staff writer at SF Weekly from 2013 to 2015. In previous lives she was a music editor, IP hack, and tutor of Cal athletes.


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