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Common Dreams

Climate Change 'Climate of Fear': Reporter Blows Whistle on Reuters

The media giant's hostility to covering global warming extends all the way from top editors to low-level bureacrats, whistleblower reveals

by
Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Former Reuters climate change reporter David Fogarty blew the whistle Monday on the global media giant's growing hostility to reporting on the climate change crisis, including a company-wide 'climate of fear,' in which Fogarty was given explicit instructions—and faced bureaucratic pressures—to avoid the topic.

Fogarty became so frustrated with his prohibition from covering an issue he sees as crucial to journalism—and that he was hired to write about—that he resigned his post earlier this year.

"From very early in 2012, I was repeatedly told that climate and environment stories were no longer a top priority for Reuters and I was asked to look at other areas," he wrote in an statement published in The Baron Monday.

Last April Fogarty had a conversation with Reuters' deputy editor in chief at the time—Paul Ingrassia—who informed Fogarty that he is a 'climate change skeptic.'

Fogarty soon noticed an increasingly hostile climate to covering the growing crisis. He explains:

Progressively, getting any climate change-themed story published got harder. It was a lottery. Some desk editors happily subbed and pushed the button. Others agonized and asked a million questions. Debate on some story ideas generated endless bureaucracy by editors frightened to take a decision, reflecting a different type of climate within Reuters – the climate of fear.

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In mid-October, Fogarty was told that the paper is shifting its coverage priorities away from climate change. Soon after, Fogarty was instructed that his "climate change role was abolished."

At that point, Fogarty decided it was "[his] time to leave," as he could not, in good conscience, participate in a blackout of an important issue that "touches every facet of human life and every economy."

In an email to Climate Progress, Fogarty explained he wrote the public statement to

highlight the troubling and puzzling decline in reporting on climate and environment issues by Reuters. The company had a great team of dedicated climate and environment reporters and Reuters earned a well-deserved reputation for objective and thorough reporting in this field. But over a very short space of time, the support and resources for reporting the climate and environment story were withdrawn.

Fogarty's revelations come amidst growing concerns that big media is turning away from the climate crisis as it grows increasingly severe.

In January, the New York Times closed its entire environment reporting desk and slashed positions, despite public outcry. In March, the New York Times shut down its "Green Blog" after four years, prompting opposition from within NYT staff.

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