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Wayback Machine Trumps FOI Tribunal 401

Posted by timothy
from the this-thing-called-the-internet dept.
New submitter calder123 writes "Last week, the BBC won an FOIA tribunal ruling that they didn't have to reveal the names of attendees at a seminar in 2006, designed to shape the BBC's coverage of climate change issues. The document, uncovered by Maurizio Morabito, puts comments by the BBC that the meeting was held under Chatham House rules, and that the seminar drew on top scientific advice in an interesting light. In a bizarre coincidence, four of the BBC's attendees at the seminar have resigned in the last few days."
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Wayback Machine Trumps FOI Tribunal

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  • Must be nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crazyjj (2598719) * on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @10:26AM (#41966989)

    So the BBC is happy to take public money, but doesn't think there should be ANY strings or responsibilities attached? Must be nice. I wonder if they would accept other public agencies refusing THEIR Freedom of Information requests. I suspect not. And yet that is the precedent they could set.

    Personally, I think it's a bad precedent to be set by a institution that has a journalistic wing itself. But, then again, I'm a little creeped out by the whole idea of a state-run media in the first place, even one that stringently attempts to remain objective. It's bound to produce conflicts of interest, no matter how much you try to avoid them.

    And, even putting the precedent aside, it just looks bad. If you're going to ask others to be open, it's really embarrassing when it looks like you're trying to hide something yourself, especially when openness is one of your stated [bbc.co.uk] goals, oft-repeated. [bbc.co.uk]

  • Re:Must be nice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @10:37AM (#41967101)

    The government is publicly funded as well..

  • Re:Must be nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clark0r (925569) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @10:38AM (#41967109) Homepage
    If I had mod points I would mod you up. Most articles on the BBC are followed by comments by people who do not understand the fundamental workings of the organisation. The BBC is an independent news organisation. It does not have to bend to the will of governments or advertisers. That is it's huge advantage over commercial news and TV broadcasts. You only need to watch some US news shows to understand why this is preferable to commercial TV news.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @10:45AM (#41967191)

    That's why BBC had to do this:

    - This is incredible. In Jan 2006 the BBC held a meeting of “the best scientific experts” to decide BBC policy on climate change reporting (t)
    - The BBC has been in court blocking FOI attempts to get the list of the 28 attendees, but it’s just been discovered on the wayback machine (t)
    - It turns out that only 3 were current scientists (all alarmists). The rest were activists or journalists (t)
    - The BBC sent four low level representatives: Peter Rippon, Steve Mitchell, Helen Boaden, George Enwistle. All have since risen to power. (t)
    - Amazingly, those are also the exact four who have thus far resigned this week over the false paedophilia accusations against Lord McAlpine. (t)

  • Re:Must be nice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash (241428) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @10:48AM (#41967225) Homepage Journal

    Well, sure, but CBS, NBC, ABC, and even Fox are regulated, and thus beholden, to the state too.

    It would be a mistake to suggest that the BBC is particularly beholden to government simply because it's funded by the TV licence fee rather than advertising. It's placing weight on a somewhat dubious fact that implies something that isn't the case.

  • Re:Disruption (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @10:58AM (#41967377)

    It isn't a religious faith. Its science. Its writing on the wall, and serious people are finally starting to read it [phys.org]. The people polluting the Earth are already having an impact on our weather patterns - one that has claimed lives.

    WRONG

    It's NOT science.

    Science WELCOMES attempts at falsification. It does NOT label doubters "denialists" or "heretics".

    Read this. [stephenjaygould.org]. You might learn something. Though I doubt it.

  • Re:Disruption (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @11:05AM (#41967469) Homepage

    If AGW is a correct theory, it can withstand the light of day.

    It has withstood the light of day. Repeatedly. For approximately 20 years. To the point where the vast majority of scientists who study this stuff agree that it's the best available explanation of numerous observed changes in the climate.

    The only place there's a serious debate is in the public imagination, and that's largely due to a very well-funded PR campaign funded by the oil and coal industries.

  • by Enry (630) <enry@wayga.FORTRANnet minus language> on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @11:11AM (#41967527) Journal

    Stealing cable is a criminal offence too. Not sure how this is any different.

  • Re:Must be nice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @11:13AM (#41967551) Homepage

    "I can choose not to pay for a licence."

    Yeah, Go ahead and try that.

  • by rickb928 (945187) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @11:17AM (#41967609) Homepage Journal

    And it's interesting. Apparently, the Beeb decided that the overwheling evidence of climate change and global warming rendered dissenting views not only null, but dangerous, in that these dissents would only impede what is necessary action, and are either specious, disingenuous, false, or all of the preceding. So the BBC essentially wanted to suspend even the pretense of impartial reporting and just go all in for acknowledging man-caused climate change as fact.

    Now, it may well be, but this decision had the effect of marginalizing opposing points of vew, on the BBC, to the point that there would be NO dissent.

    I wonder if there are any other issues that the Beeb (affectionately referred to as 'Auntie' in the Register article referenced, and also by some of those Brits old enough to suspect the Beeb is less than honorable in some areas) would similarly suspend impartiaility (sometimes considered a foundation of journalism, so therefore suspending the practice of 'journalism' in reference to these issues) and thereby become essentially the mouthpiece of one side or the other in a dispute? Other than the Israel/Palestine conflict, Islamic terrorism, and perhaps global crony capitalism, I can't thing of a thing.

    Ssadly, the BBC is become just another media outlet, adding to the spew of whatever meme is advantageous to the powers that be. Those powers, for those of you at home scoring in pen, do not include us.

    And of course, the BBC would prefer to not even be asked these questions, much less have to answer them honestly or at least be compelled to admit they even discuss such things. Here in the U.S. we don't have such a problem. Our media outlets are essentially divided into three camps; Leftist, Rightist, and irrelevant. And these outlets are hardly called to account for anything, except by an opposing camp, though the Irrelevants tend to question everything, even themselves, perpetuating their irrelevancy. You know which outlets belong to which camps, right? Ok, score this one in pencil until you get time to review the action and come to a better decision...

  • Re:Must be nice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @11:22AM (#41967669)

    So what? It's still the government. My local sewage authority is set up to have almost no direct government oversight except for revenue approval (it spans jurisdictions), but I still don't pretend that my sewer service is privately provided.

  • Re:Disruption (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @11:25AM (#41967717)

    Science is not impartial.

    What?!! It had damned well better be.

    And its not done yet. Climate models need to continually be revised to account for as yet unexplained phenomena. Like why Antarctic ice is growing. Until these models are refined to the point of making reliable predictions, they are of little use to support critical economic decisions. And preliminary decisions already in effect may have to be refined or even reversed should revised theories dictate their change.

    On the other hand, if the science is 'done' as many claim, then we could save a bundle of money by defunding a lot of climate research. If only 3 out of 28 'experts' advising government agencies are scientists, it would seem that this is in fact the case.

  • Re:Disruption (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khallow (566160) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @11:35AM (#41967881)

    The only place there's a serious debate is in the public imagination, and that's largely due to a very well-funded PR campaign funded by the oil and coal industries.

    Show me the money. If there's a "well funded" PR campaign then someone has to be spending that money. In contrast there are vast sums being spent on pro-AGW PR. For example, whole government programs are devoted to this, such as UK's Met Office and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (a department in US's NASA).

  • Re:Must be nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sique (173459) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @11:46AM (#41968045) Homepage
    No, it's not the government. It will not be the goverment and it was never the government. Your problem is the false dichotomy which doesn't recognize anything else than "private" and "government". The local sewage plant is legally owned by a governmental entity, so it's governmental. The BBC is not owned by any governmental entity. It just belongs to itself.
  • Re:Must be nice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by khallow (566160) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @11:47AM (#41968051)
    An "independent" news agency which depends on the UK government to enforce its TV tax. And the information that the FOI request attempted to uncover shows a) that the conference in question was stacked with activitists and a token number of scientists. b) that all of the BBC advisers who appeared there apparently went on to bigger and better things, including resigning due to deep involvement in a defamation scandal involving a conservative UK politician.

    What it looks like to me is that AGW advocates took over the BBC's ideological stance on climate matters at that conference.
  • by Shrike82 (1471633) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @12:09PM (#41968397)
    Point by point analysis:

    This is incredible. In Jan 2006 the BBC held a meeting of “the best scientific experts” to decide BBC policy on climate change reporting

    Is incredulity the appropriate response here? Is the fact that they held the meeting incredible, or are the quotation marks supposed to help me figure it out?

    The BBC has been in court blocking FOI attempts to get the list of the 28 attendees, but it’s just been discovered on the wayback machine

    Great. How about actually quoting the BBC on their reasons for attempting to block the FOIA request instead of speculating that it must be a conspiracy?

    It turns out that only 3 were current scientists (all alarmists). The rest were activists or journalists

    Woah, woah, woah. Look at the list everyone. I can spot a hell of a lot more than three names and affiliations on there that I'd call scientists. Which three are we referring to? What discounts all the others from being scientists? A baffling and quite badly founded argument really...

    The BBC sent four low level representatives: Peter Rippon, Steve Mitchell, Helen Boaden, George Enwistle. All have since risen to power.

    "Low level" eh? The Duty Editor for World at One/PM/The World this Weekend, the Head Of Radio News, the Director of News and the Head of TV Current Affairs. Not to mention the 28 other BBC staff attending. Why the focus on just these four in particular and the dismissal of their roles at that time? Again baffling...

    Amazingly, those are also the exact four who have thus far resigned this week over the false paedophilia accusations against Lord McAlpine.

    Ah less baffling now. They've been involved in a scandal this week so their involvement brings into question the entire proceedings of a seminar nearly seven years ago, apparently. That's some astounding journalism. *golf clap* Kudos to "Bruce Hoult in a Bishop Hill comment" (from TFA) for selective blindness and blatant agenda pushing in an article attempting to criticise the BBC for the very same things. Truly inspiring.

  • Re:Must be nice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @12:13PM (#41968439)

    An "independent" news agency which depends on the UK government to enforce its TV tax.

    Yep, just like the independent Judiciary is funded by the Legislature it is designed to be a check against. The arrangement hasn't caused any problems so far.

  • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @12:42PM (#41968891)

    I'm struggling to understand how, if there is overwhelming evidence for climate change, that you've reached the conclusion that they've suspended impartiality.

    Being impartial does not mean representing invalid views just because every man and his dog wants their say, it's about being impartial and deciding what to report.

    If they approached the topic impartially and decided impartially that the evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of climate change being a real actual problem, and that that's what they should report, they don't suddenly become impartial for ignoring counter arguments when those counter arguments hold no merit. If they were ignoring a legitimate counter argument based on scientific fact then you'd be right, but that's not the issue here. To date there are still no valid peer reviewed scientific studies to the contrary nor even any investigations by those against the climate change idea proving convincingly that the whole thing may be a hoax. The BBC has however given air time to these people regardless for what it's worth, you only have to listen to Jeremy Clarkson for 5 minutes for example.

    What you're effectively saying is that for every David Attenbrough or Brian Cox documentary they broadcast based on scientific fact they should produce a documentary from young earth creationists denying the theory of evolution and just generally spouting bollocks.

    Sorry but that's fucking stupid. Being impartial doesn't require you to broadcast outright bullshit, it has to at least have some solid backing evidence, and therein lies the problem for climate change deniers - they don't have any. The only time this doesn't hold true is for opinion peices - i.e. who is right in the Israel/Palestine conflict? but climate change isn't based merely on opinion as much as the denialists like to think so, it's science and hence based heavily on fact.

  • Re:Disruption (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @01:07PM (#41969313)

    It isn't a religious faith. Its science. Its writing on the wall, and serious people are finally starting to read it [phys.org]. The people polluting the Earth are already having an impact on our weather patterns - one that has claimed lives.

    WRONG

    It's NOT science.

    Science WELCOMES attempts at falsification. It does NOT label doubters "denialists" or "heretics".

    So, what do you call people who reject the heliocentric solar system?

  • Re:Disruption (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @07:05PM (#41974979) Homepage

    Not really. A paper that contributes no evidence or analysis is not going to be rated very highly or cited much. It may not be published at all.

    It's the opposing pole to the adage "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof".

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