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Passport Event- Calling Bullshit: Global Climate Change Week

Influencing Science Literature

Corporations and industry groups, issue organizations together spend billions of dollars each year to gain access to decision-makers in government, in attempts to influence their thinking. They also seek to influence coverage through the news media. Because of the decreased capacity of news organizations and because not all journalists are scientific experts, often news articles just copy from reports or press releases without deep investigation or verification. This puts the onus on individual readers to check facts and understand how sources of information influence what we know.

Gauge Reporting

Here are some ways to better gauge how reporting may be influenced by particular perspectives, whether it’s an issue group, scientist, corporation or industry.

  1. Who and what the news article cites give us clues to whether the article was well-researched and provided multiple perspectives.

    1. Does the article just take directly from a news release?

    2. Does the article cite different sources? What sources does it cite? How many different sources does it cite?

    3. Is the article transparent about its sources?

    4. Is there a bio line of the author?

  2. How the issue is framed can give us information about interests behind the information presented.

    1. Is the framing of the article about preserving the plastics industry? Or is it about protecting the environment?

    2. Is the framing of the articles about the health of industry or about the health of people?

  3. The tone of the article can give us information about how the author is positioned toward the issue.

    1. Is the tone of the article negative or positive toward one perspective, whether it be the industry, the issue group or science?

  4. How facts and data are used

Whose Interested?

Research who is cited.

  1. Check to see if the research, science or scientist cited is funded by a corporate, government or nonprofit entity.

  2. Read “About” pages on the website of content producers to find sources of funding. Is research conducted independently of funding sources?

  3. Check grant databases to find funding sources. Does the organization or corporation get funds from the government, foundations, individual contributions or other sources.

  4. Check to see if they have a “Press Release” or “In the Media” page on their website showing their position and where they have been cited.

  5. Check lobbying databases to see how the corporation or organization has tried to influence legislation.

Resources

Plastics Legislation

Open Secrets

Financial incentives 

Non-corporate Funding sources

Credible Sources

  • UNESCO Ocean Literacy Portal