2011-02-06 21:39:03Thoughts on getting into mainstream media
James Wight


I’ve been thinking about outreach and here are my thoughts, mostly on the goals we should be thinking about rather than how to achieve them. I don’t have any magic solutions to any of this, I’m just thinking out loud here.

I’m thinking we should be capitalising on the recent extreme weather, getting out the science about climate change and particularly the connection to extreme weather while people are paying attention. I think intense rainfall is a good thing to focus on, because anecdotal evidence is likely to reinforce that in people’s minds. Given the intense rainfall, floods, and cyclone that have recently hit Australia, we should be thinking about how to get into Australian mainstream media.

According to a book I read recently, the US army have a saying that “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” It is rather like that when we are trying to communicate complex science but we have powerful enemies that will twist our every word. When talking about extreme weather, there are a couple of strawmen we always have to deal with, so it’s worth thinking about how to fend them off:

  • The strawman that we’re being inconsistent in the types of events caused by global warming. Unfortunately, what seems to happen is that when there’s a drought, we point out that global warming means more extreme weather including droughts, and everybody runs with the droughts angle. Then when there’s a flood and we point out that global warming means more floods as well as more droughts, deniers accuse us of being inconsistent. I don’t know if that argument convinces people but they keep using it so they obviously think it does.
  • The strawman that global warming says something about next year’s weather. We need to figure out how to communicate the point that next summer there might be no major flooding, because the weather varies from year to year, but gradually as the climate changes intense rainfall and floods (and droughts) will become much more common and/or much worse – and “we ain’t seen nothing yet”. Unfortunately it’s very difficult to communicate such subtleties when, as I say, the other side will twist our every word.

More generally, I think we also need to be thinking about how to get our message into non-online media. We should be thinking about how to reach that older demographic which is particularly susceptible to climate denial. We need to find some way of reaching those people who read newspapers or watch TV. We’re probably never going to get real science onto talk radio so I can’t imagine how we can possibly reach that audience.

On a more positive note, I was talking to my mother about all this stuff and she suggested we should do a press release announcing the Monckton Myths series – it is a few days late but it might get us some coverage. She has volunteered to draft a press release for us which I will post shortly. If successful this would both publicise SkS and provide some negative coverage of Monckton. She's also suggesting that regular SkS press releases could help us get more mainstream coverage.

2011-02-06 23:35:28Press releases and James' mum
John Cook

First of all, James, let me say your mum is cool. My mum stayed over our place this week and when I even mention climate or SkS, her eyes glaze over.

The mention of press releases was a forehead slapping moment for me. Of course! That should be a vital part of our outreach strategy. Scott Mandia uses press releases fairly regularly and has a good relationship with media so I'll ask him for advice and tips. So the idea of press releases is something we should incorporate into future releases and if it's not too late, Monckton Myths. Although I wonder if MM is a little wonkish for mainstream media. On the other hand, it would be useful resource for journalists so that could be an angle to sell it?

I've also been thinking about how to get our messaging out beyond the blogosphere. One idea I've had is we need to develop relationships with more newspapers. I've got a relationship with the UK Guardian and am starting out with the Huff Post (a blog but with very high traffic). But I think all the SkS authors need to start thinking about mainstream media outlets they could conceivably make contact with, submit opeds too, etc. James, you've published on the ABC Drum. Dana is published in the Guardian. We need to keep pushing this boundary further. Relying on the guardian is putting our eggs into one basket so my challenge to all of you is to start thinking about places where you could publish climate material. Then once opportunities arise, you have the support network here on SkS to help with writing articles and coordinating with each other to get unified messages out.

2011-02-07 00:46:56How about a regular newsletter?


People can currently subscribe to the daily-links and the published blog-posts, but could it make sense to - in addition - put together a regular newsletter featuring the latest SkS-news? This newsletter could be sent out to subscribers eg. once a week and could include snippets from the latest blog-posts and completed rebuttals plus some other tidbits (eg. most commented on post or where articles were crossposted or news about features like the iPhone-app). Ideally, this newsletter would also go out to several news-outlets.


2011-02-07 00:59:55ABC
James Wight


“James, you’re published on the ABC Drum.”

Um, no, actually. I was given the impression they were going to publish my piece but there’s been no sign of it since. I submitted it just before the Christmas break and I gather they operate on a skeleton staff over the holidays, but they should be back to work by now. They’re not answering my emails so I don’t know what’s going on. I’m rather annoyed about it – if they’re not going to publish it I wish they would tell me so I could submit it to somewhere else.