Sceptics have had a win against the alarmists at the Sydney Morning Herald. Judy Prisk, the readers’ editor of the paper, promises the end of a trick that has been shamelessly pulled for years:
Several times in past months the Herald has used photographs of steam rising from power station chimneys with captions or subheads intimating that the steam was a polluting pall.
The most recent example was on the cover of BusinessDay on April 17. The photo (shown below at left) was taken at Bayswater power station in July last year, shows funnels of dark steam silhouetted against white clouds and a blue sky… A subhead was placed on it which said ‘’Up in smoke’’. One picture, three words, dozens of complaints.
An example: ‘’…because it focuses on smoke, it has nothing whatever to do with the story below it, which is about government policy regarding global warming, which relates to greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, not smoke. Worse, there is no smoke in this photograph. If there was going to be smoke, it would come from the two narrow chimneys in the centre of the photograph. What is inferred to be smoke is actually steam, coming from the two cooling towers on either side of the chimneys.’’…
And another, who described the image and subhead as ‘’an egregious deception’’, added: ‘’An old trick, been done many times before, and hardly appropriate for a serious section of a serious newspaper.’’…
Many readers feel the Herald and The Sun-Herald do not publish enough alternative opinions and stories on climate change and global warming, that they have formed an opinion and will stick with it… So when those who question the climate-change science see what they consider examples of the ‘’old trick’’ referred to by the reader, they feel their concerns are justified.
The decision to use the image with such a misleading subhead was a poor one, and one which drew a message from the editor to ensure it did not recur. Although it was not the first time it has happened, hopefully it will be the last.
Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.