Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Columbia Journalism Review on Green Reporting

From the CJR's Observatory column:

The Wind Beneath Biofuels’ Wings
The press goes giddy over Virgin’s “nutty” test flight

As we’ve noted before, “green” business articles are tempting for journalists right now. That is doubly so when the story involves a Boeing 747 and a rogue billionaire who wants to save the world. So it was no wonder that the press went wild when Richard Branson’s Virgin Airways made the first commercial airplane flight powered partly by biofuels. But some reporters had trouble untangling publicity from progress.

Some of the earliest headlines made it seem like Branson had solved the riddle of fossil-fuel dependence for flight: “Virgin Flies Biofuel Jet From London” (AP), “Biofuel Takes Flight with Virgin Atlantic” (CNet), “Historic biofuel flight in Britain” (UPI). Many of the earliest reports sounded like rewritten PR babble, which glossed over the details what the airline actually accomplished. The AP article was the vaguest vignette of boosterism...MORE

We couldn't agree more. In DARPA Scramjet hits ludicrous speed
we give you facts and pithy, farm country, quotes:
"When you get above 2 percent of biodiesel in the jet fuel, the freezing point rose.”

”It’s one thing if you stall a tractor in 44 below zero weather. You haul the tractor into a heated garage and wait for nature to take its course. But if you are at 33,000 feet (where it is equally cold) and suddenly your fuel line begins to freeze, that’s more than just annoying,” said Seames.

Climateer Investing will continue to share the stories that grab our interest, avoiding boosterism and heartstrings journalism.

(via Terry)