Thursday, 7 January 2010

the snow job

A representative from a large ski company goes on The Weather Channel to give an upbeat account of widespread snow in Colorado.

A local reporter in the area writes that on his side of the Rockies it's warm, dry and sunny. He can't see any of this snow.

The ski company threatens to withdraw its advertising from the local paper. It doesn't have to. The reporter gets fired.

With its tension between the local tourism industry and the reporting of the facts, this reporter's story has shades of Dr Stockmann in Ibsen's Enemy of the People, telling the town that the water for the new public baths is poisoned, or the Roy Scheider character in Jaws, telling the citizens of the Amity beach resort that there's a man-eating shark in the area. No-one wants to know.

In another way, it reflects the mainstream media's support for big business over empirical evidence, reflected most conspicuously in its reporting of climate change.

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