Not too many years ago, the Listener was a bastion of independent journalism, and a welcome counterweight to the heavily right-wing bias of the New Zealand newspaper industry. However, editor Pamela Stirling has back-pedalled furiously since she took over, turning the magazine into little more than New Idea with added TV listings. The only two remaining reasons to read it have been the Arts, Books & Music section, which is still excellent, and Dave Hansford's column. I haven't always agreed with what he's written, but each week, he's come up with intelligent, well-researched, focused environmental journalism.
So what did the Listener editor do when the local climate change deniers got their sugar daddies in the US to write angry letters to the Listener and issue threats? Did she back her columnist?
Like hell she did. First of all, she allowed the deniers, whose scientific credentials have been amply debunked in places such as Real Climate, extensive space for a "rebuttal", and then she terminated the Ecologic column.
Flushed with this success, who knows who the climate change denial industry will go after next? When the streets of Wellington and Auckland are flooded with seawater, they'll still be claiming it's due to sunspots or urban heat islands. I only hope they all own expensive coastal properties.
Meanwhile, the Listener will doubtless continue on its merry way rightward and downward. These days, I prefer the TV Guide. At least it's honest about what it's doing.
- Read Dave Hansford's original column and his subsequent reminder of the key issue.
- Read Gareth Renowden's extensive coverage at Hot Topic. (Update on 19/4: You can't any more, because the Listener and their lawyers got it taken down - but the comments are still there, and the original post is now available elsewhere. (PDF format image of original post; see pp. 3-4.))
- Read Russell Brown's coverage at HardNews.
- Now the Flat Earth Society have got in on the act.