Media Watch, your bias is bare

holmesBefore we get stuck into contemporary matters (and we’re keen as mustard, there are so many of them calling to be shunted into the cold light of day) we must first deal with a stone in our collective shoes.

Back in September, the ABC show Media Watch took The Australian to task for a report it ran on Hamish Cumming.  Its presenter, Jonathan Holmes, dismissed the claims made by Mr Cumming that wind farms do not lower greenhouse gas emissions.

(And here we admit to being fans of both journalist Graham Lloyd and Mr C. Have a look at our These people get it section if you haven’t already done so. While we’re at it, we’re also fans of Mr Holmes. Nobody else on television can raise an eyebrow like he can, and communicate so much. And who else is there to keep the bastards in the media honest?)

But this time, and not for the first time, Mr Holmes was wrong – and wrong on so many counts.

It all gets a bit messy and complicated. (So much about the wind farm issue seems to be messy and complicated, doesn’t it?) So we will try and keep it brief and simple.

Mr Holmes said:

1. Mr Cumming is a maverick amateur expert of the kind The Australian loves.


Amateur, apparently.

Hang on. Maverick amateur? Cumming is an engineer. He made his fortune developing a fuel efficiency device for diesel engines that was taken up by the US military.

Mr Cumming actually sounds a lot more qualified than others to make a judgment on these things. Wouldn’t you say so, Jonathan?

2. Also, you seem to accept power stations produce a constant output of electricity then you state you asked generators about when they reduced their output.

Then later on you say: “But the fact is, the brown-coal generators seldom have to reduce their output.”

As blog commentator Harold says on your website: The fact that excess electricity might end up in some other state where it might or might not be needed doesn’t change anything, because the other state can’t throttle their coal burning stations down for the same reason Victoria’s can’t (because wind is variable and unpredictable). Thanks Harold. Couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

3: Then, Jonathan, you quote from a report by consultants Pitt and Sherry, which you say was written by “energy experts.”

But you make no mention that Pitt and Sherry has worked for the wind industry.

In our view not mentioning this is a bit like referring to arguments from the prosecution to prove a case of guilt, without saying where those arguments came from.

The wind industry is rife with “experts” who receive their income undertaking reports to support and advance the wind industry.

Surely you knew this when your researchers found the report, or did they not check?

Pitt and Sherry is also on the wind directorate at the Clean Energy Council.

The CEC is not one of our favorites, to be honest. Some in our circles refer to it as the Stasi of the wind industry.  This is not a comparison we would make, however. But it does denote the high level of suspicion and distrust about the CEC and how it goes about its business.

But of course none of this is relevant because authors Hugh Saddler and Graham Anderson are highly respected in their field.

But as reported on Saturday in The Australian (29/12/12), Saddler throws more light on the issue.

Lloyd writes: (Saddler’s) most recent report shows emissions from power generation fell by a further 0.6 million tonnes in the year ending November, due to a big downturn in demand for electricity.

“Whether you attribute the fall to wind, solar or reduced demand at the meter no one knows,” Saddler says. “We don’t have enough data to know but what we do know is the electricity output from the major coal-fired generators has been going steadily down.”

Excuse me?


Shock jocks. Are they the only source of truth on wind farms?

The author of the report you used to dismiss the claims by Cumming now says he can’t say for sure why electricity output from coal-fired generators is going down. So it may not be from wind farms at all.

We also refer you to the blog of former journalist Peter Eltham, who was prompted to undertake his own investigation into the issue of greenhouse gas abatement from wind farms after your program.

He writes: “In the absence of detailed emissions displacement data for wind, it is impossible to tell by how much wind is contributing to the reported fall in emissions.  It could be a lot, or it could be not very much at all. ”

And this, of course, is exactly what Cumming said in yesterday’s Australian article, and the previous one. He just wants the facts.

Sorry Jonathan, but it’s all a pretty damning indictment of the slick and superficial veneer you presented to counter his claims.

4. And lastly, we notice Media Watch is currently recruiting for a researcher/journalist for 2013.

In part, your recruitment advertisement on reads:

“Journalist with demonstrable strong, accurate researching and knowledge of where to find information from a variety of sources are encouraged to apply. ” (sic)

(Appallingly written, by the way. You need to recruit a good sub editor while you are at it. But maybe we’re just being picky.)

It’s actually the remuneration we’re interested in.

$68,930 – $73,704 p.a. + Generous Super

Now we know the ABC, like all media organizations, is facing budget cuts. Life is tough for you all, right across the spectrum.

But do you really think you’re going to get a gun researcher for that kind of money.

At Fairfax and News Ltd that will buy  you a mid-ranker who may get to cut their teeth on police rounds or council meetings.

We’re not being facetious here but you know what they say about paying peanuts, Jonathan? You just end up with monkeys.

(Gosh, we wish we could raise an eyebrow like you can. But we feel much better now. From next post, we’re back to the future.)


Sore ABC

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

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