Advocacy in the tail: Exploring the implications of ‘climategate’ for science journalism and public debate in the digital age.
Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism, 12(7) pp. 832–846.
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This paper explores the evolving practices of science journalism and public debate in the digital age. The vehicle for this study is the release of digitally stored email correspondence, data and documents from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the weeks immediately prior to the United Nations Copenhagen Summit (COP-15) in December 2009. Described using the journalistic shorthand of ‘climategate’, and initially promoted through socio-technical networks of bloggers, this episode became a global news story and the subject of several formal reviews. ‘Climategate’ illustrates that media literate critics of anthropogenic explanations of climate change used digital tools to support their cause, making visible selected, newsworthy aspects of scientific information and the practices of scientists. In conclusion, I argue that ‘climategate’ may have profound implications for the production and distribution of science news, and how climate science is represented and debated in the digitally-mediated public sphere.
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