On several occasions in recent years, I have warned here that a distorted sense of journalistic objectivity can sometimes give rise to false equivalence.


Principles of journalistic balance and objectivity do not require, for example, that every story about medical advancements  include comments from an adherent of the Christian Science religion.


Yes, there’s “another side” to almost every story, but good journalism doesn’t require coverage of that other side in every instance. Not all sides of a story are equal in every respect.


Which brings us to THIS SITUATION on the other side of the Atlantic:


Earlier this month, the BBC’s governing body issued a report assessing the BBC’s impartiality in covering scientific topics. When it comes to an issue like climate change, the report concluded, not all viewpoints share the same amount of scientific substance. Giving equal time and weight to a wide range of arguments without regard to their credibility risks creating a “false balance” in the public debate.


This is a lesson for all media on both sides of the Atlantic — and not just when it comes to science coverage. There are many sides to almost every story, but that doesn’t mean they are automatically equal.


Unfortunately, too much of the media has become increasingly fixated on finding “balance,” even if it means presenting fiction on par with fact. If media outlets wanted to present an accurate account of the climate change “debate,” for instance, they would have to follow comedian John Oliver’s lead and host a “statistically representative” face-off with three climate change deniers up against 97 scientists armed with proof.

On several occasions in recent years, I have warned here that a distorted sense of journalistic objectivity can sometimes give rise to false equivalence.

Principles of journalistic balance and objectivity do not require, for example, that every story about medical advancements  include comments from an adherent of the Christian Science religion.

Yes, there’s “another side” to almost every story, but good journalism doesn’t require coverage of that other side in every instance. Not all sides of a story are equal in every respect.

Which brings us to THIS SITUATION on the other side of the Atlantic:

Earlier this month, the BBC’s governing body issued a report assessing the BBC’s impartiality in covering scientific topics. When it comes to an issue like climate change, the report concluded, not all viewpoints share the same amount of scientific substance. Giving equal time and weight to a wide range of arguments without regard to their credibility risks creating a “false balance” in the public debate.

This is a lesson for all media on both sides of the Atlantic — and not just when it comes to science coverage. There are many sides to almost every story, but that doesn’t mean they are automatically equal.

Unfortunately, too much of the media has become increasingly fixated on finding “balance,” even if it means presenting fiction on par with fact. If media outlets wanted to present an accurate account of the climate change “debate,” for instance, they would have to follow comedian John Oliver’s lead and host a “statistically representative” face-off with three climate change deniers up against 97 scientists armed with proof.