As the Associated Press tries to create consensus on what to call those who question climate science, more disagreement ensues.
By Lisa Song, InsideClimate News
Sep 29, 2015
Is it denial or doubt? The Associated Press shifts gears. Credit: Matt Brown, via Flickr
A week after the Associated Press changed its official style on how to describe people who do not accept climate change science, its attempt to clarify the issue has resulted in little clarity. There is little agreement among climate reporters on if and how they would follow the new recommendation, and whether it will make any difference.
The AP’s official stylebook––a widely used guide on word choice, grammar and other elements of writing––advised reporters to stop using “skeptics” or “deniers” and adopt “climate change doubters” or “those who reject mainstream climate science.”
Some reporters praised the change, while others vowed to stick to the old terminology, or only accepted part of the new guideline. Although the stylebook is meant to standardize word choice across newsrooms, the change has failed to create a consensus on the term.
Ryan Grim, Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief, said in an article last week that his website would continue to use the word denier. “In no other circumstance would the complete rejection of science be treated so gently,” he wrote. “And it is only being done because, over the past decade, under intense pressure, an entire political party has embraced denialism.”
The reason for removing “denier,” according to the Associated Press announcement, is that the word “has the pejorative ring of Holocaust denier.” Meanwhile, “skeptic” was removed due to complaints from scientists who consider themselves genuinely skeptical, such as those who “debunk mysticism, ESP and other pseudoscience.” Those scientists say they do not want to be associated with people who challenge the established consensus of climate science.