RTE gets heavily criticised over its Climate Change coverage with claims it’s dividing the nation – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views

RTE gets heavily criticised over its Climate Change coverage with claims it’s dividing the nation

Image source: RTE

The chair of the Oireachtas Climate Committee has accused RTÉ of polarizing and dividing the public in its reporting on climate change.

Greens TD Brian Leddin pointed to a tendency in journalism to lean into the punch and judy style of politics” in a “chase for ratings”, which he contrasted with “positive output” aimed at informing the public.

The Joint Committee on Environment and Climate Change examines the role of media and communication in the fight against climate change.

“If the interrogation of issues isn’t fair and thorough, and the outcome is a resistance to climate action, then that’s a failure, ultimately,” Mr Leddin said, reports RTE.

Tara Peterman, Executive Producer for RTÉ’s climate change coverage, said the organization adheres to BAI (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland) guidelines and its own guidelines.

She said RTÉ “[needs] to reflect views as they are present in Irish society”, reports RTE.

Peter Woods, head of RTÉ Radio 1, dismissed claims that RTÉ wanted to be divisive, saying he would “answer on specifics”” if they were provided.

“Our starting point is not to build resistance to anything but to have a discussion,” he said, reports RTE.

In her opening remarks, Ms Peterman said RTÉ has a role to play in “empowering citizens to feel that they can be part of the solution”, reports RTE.

“RTÉ is central to facilitating and hosting” the climate change debate, she said, and will “stand firm on the science of climate change, such as linking cause and effect” even in “extreme weather events.”

Reporting is now “embedded in our programming,” he added.

“I find this incredibly frustrating. You failed to answer Deputy Leddin’s question and now you’re refusing to answer mine,” Jennifer Whitmore, Social Democrats TD, said to the RTÉ representatives.

Ms Whitmore had asked if anyone had considered “banning fossil fuel advertising on RTÉ”.

She said there was “quite a large amount of advertising for fossil fuels and environmentally damaging products”, reports RTE.

Ms.Peterman said that the session participants engaged with the content and that “the commercial side is very much apart from us”, reports RTE.

Ms Whitmore asked if they have seen any conflict in a group that creates information programs, only to see the commercial arm “working directly against what you are doing” to “undermine” those efforts.

Appetite for “solution-oriented approach”

Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan said there had been a “drastic” improvement in RTÉ’s climate reporting, praising the “Hot Mess” podcast and COP27 coverage but asked if there was much interest in the programming.

“As a public broadcaster I don’t think that we can be determined exclusively by ratings,” said Colm O’Callaghan, Head of Specialist Factual Content at RTÉ.

Fine Gael TD Richard Bruton agreed that RTÉ’s coverage had “improved significantly”.

“I think that what I see is a type of green-washing advertising coming on in the middle of shows that show climate action,” said Green Party Senator Pauline O’Reilly, reports RTE.

Philip Bromwell, Digital Native Content Editor at RTÉ News, pointed to the ‘Climate Heroes’ series, which featured 49 people who are ‘rising up’ with practical answers to the crisis.

“There is a real appetite” for this “solutions-based approach”, he said, reports RTE.

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