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Since when were Greenpeace the bad guys?
In this article - journalist gets annoyed because someone else apart from a journalist is now lying to the public.
All forms of media have been lying to the public for years, by writing only what sells advertising. This mostly results in an endless torrent of negative news and sensationalist pap, and the majority of requests I receive as a PR can be summed up thus: "I have written this story, do you have an expert spokesperson who will put their name to my ill-informed article designed purely to sell advertising to a stupid public?"
Most journalists I encounter are just ignorant, self-aggrandising know-it-alls who know very little about what they write and will only quote 'experts' who agree with whatever angle they happen to be peddling. That's reporting! Never mind ask your expert then write your story. No, review what got most clicks, write derivative story, ask PR for validation through 'expert' quotes. That is modern media in most cases, sadly.
So don't get your knickers in a twist when the media landscape has changed and people and organisations can self publish, and they are pulling the same damn tricks media and politicians have been doing for decades. Your industry perfected the art of lying to the public to serve your own ends, and now you want to champion against it? Ludicrous. Risible. Pathetic.
Wow. That comment is just one nice big non-sequitur from start to finish.
You could explain why it doesn't follow. Take it to pieces be my guest.
I'm saying journalists are hypocritical to criticise a style of message delivery their industry has created and profited from for decades. Making villains or heroes out of celebrities for example, when the truth is much more mundane than the reporting - purely to sell papers and advertising.
Greenpeace tell a tall tale to achieve their goals and it's seen as borderline criminal. Well I didn't see the new statesman complaining when the exact same kind of behaviour is carried out by their industry peers, shoddy excuses for journalists that most of them are.
You say that doesn't follow "from start to finish" - please explain why.
Basically your entire argument is that because journalists have lied therefore they can't point out other peoples' lies. Even assuming the former is true, the latter does not follow.
Also none of it has anything whatsoever to do with the fact that Greenpeace deceived people. Although you talk about journalists in general it reads like a personal attack on Martin Robbins.
"Basically your entire argument is that because journalists have lied therefore they can't point out other peoples' lies. Even assuming the former is true, the latter does not follow."
That's not my argument. Straw man. My argument is they are hypocrites to criticise - , and who would want to listen to them on such a topic as deceiving the public.
"Although you talk about journalists in general it reads like a personal attack on Martin Robbins."
I take your point, it was not intended as such.
Basically your entire argument is that because journalists have lied therefore they can't point out other people's lies. Even assuming the former is true, the latter does not follow.
"Well I didn't see the new statesman complaining when the exact same kind of behaviour is carried out by their industry peers"
Then you must be blind, given the amount of coverage New Statesman writers like David Allen Green, Stephen Baxter and others have devoted to bad media.
Also, not sure how I've profited for decades when I've only been a writer since 2008.
Also, not sure what any of this has to do with the fact that Greenpeace deceived people, and the debate over whether that's okay or not.
I am self-aggrandizing though.
"Then you must be blind, given the amount of coverage New Statesman writers like David Allen Green, Stephen Baxter and others have devoted to bad media."
Yes the New Statesman is better than many outlets, but still has its own agenda and is not above writing misleading/slanted things to push that agenda.
"Also, not sure how I've profited for decades when I've only been a writer since 2008."
In the same way as the current Shell CEO didn't directly profit from the rape of Nigeria in the 70s? "No we're much better these days guv'nor, honest"
"Also, not sure what any of this has to do with the fact that Greenpeace deceived people, and the debate over whether that's okay or not."
It has a lot to do with it. Point being, it's not OK, but nothing will happen because it's an accepted norm that has been established by your fine industry and heavily facilitated by mine. I take my fair share of the blame, but I ain't pointing fingers.
Everyone's at it - what right have you to criticise? If you wanted to take a moral stance on Greenpeace's actions, you could have chosen not to promote their campaign by writing about it. You know it's a bit like a clever lawyer prefacing their character assassination with "I wouldn't dream of mentioning the numerous indiscretions of my client's wife... but A, b, c"
BUt it's a hot topic eh? If you don't take those clicks someone else will. You publicise the very means and actions you consider flawed. It's your right to criticise publicly of course, if only I believed your motivations were so pure. Perhaps my cynicism gets the better of me.
In any case all the best.
"Everyone's at it - what right have you to criticise?"
I'm not "at it", so plenty.
Two more questions:
1) What do you believe my motivations are?
2) Why is it the default response for so many people, whenever an organisation like Greenpeace is criticized, to ignore the substantive points made in favour of attacking the person who made them?
I'm afraid you are 'at it' Martin.
You've fabricated evidence against Greenpeace in the past - and you've made a claim in this article - that bloggers received a string of intimidating legal threats - that is entirely fictitious.
I don't know what Greenpeace have done to you to make you pursue this vendetta against them - but I'm afraid it seems to make you lose your sense of perspective, tipping you over into irrationality and poor journalism.
1) I believe your motivations are entirely self serving. To get more views, to achieve some form of fame, to get paid better. This article is clickbait pure and simple, I'd imagine page views and clicks being a metric against which your performance is assessed. I say again if you wanted to make a real stand against this campaign, you could have refrained from publicising it. But what journalist would be so quietly honourable? NO far better to screech shrill rhetoric across the ether, for all the good that does.
2) Because 1)
People who perpetrate hoaxes might be doing it with the best of intentions but what they fail to realise is that people who have been duped by the hoax then look at the perpetrators as a bunch of tossers.
Exactly. It's not nice being made to look foolish.
What a pathetic article. It's time Mr Robbins was given the boot. This won't help sales.
But I only just started!
Nope, I'm sorry Martin. I can categorically state that your articles are not helping sales of the internet. On your bike.
"Since when were Greenpeace the bad guys?"
Newfoundlanders have known Greenpeace doesn't care about local people or livelihoods for decades.
Interesting article. I'm not so sure, though, that Greenpeace's failure is making people think they're deceitful. I think a bigger issue is that when you find out the campaigns are hoaxes, your immediate next thought is, "Oh, so Shell aren't that bad after all." Now that's self-defeating.
I think it is just the other way around, NGOs like Greenpeace play the role of moralizers, as if they were authomatically the 'good boys'. This gives them a power to manipulate large stakes of the public who trusts them blindly. But they should question themselves from time to time.
Good point, well made.
"Ah, an article irrelevantly slagging off Greenpeace - and obnoxious, unignorable BP adverts down both sides of my screen."
The article also slags of Shell and the oil industry generally, but feel free to ignore that. (Though I agree the BP ad placement is ironic.)
"astonishing amount of contempt for the public", now that would be your precious the media covering up the _millions of people_ [look it up] who die globally every year as a direct result of burning fossil fuels, from asthma, cancer, cardiac problems, the incredible medical costs associated with it and the incalculable, permanent environmental damage done to this planet.
Meanwhile, the 'poor corporate media and Shell oil' are being mocked, and can't take a little tiny bit of heat.
The poor babies.
Mitt Romney must be onto to something, because it appears that whining must be the 'new black' for the right wing.
Or in other words one side is good the other evil and if the good does evil it is still good and if the evil does good it is still evil.
Blah, blah, blah.
Method of debate is so much more important than the content.
"that would be your precious the media covering up the _millions of people_ [look it up] who die globally every year as a direct result of burning fossil fuels"
I write for The Guardian and New Statesman, two publications with a pretty long record of pushing for action on climate change. Please explain how either organ has been 'covering up'?
Greenpeace's style is not for everyone. But If many people can't tell a hoax from real news, and if news sites and bloggers reproduce anything without question, that's a problem in itself, and not for Greenpeace to blame.
Greenpeace has always been great at drawing attention to major environmental issues. To claim that the exploitation of the Arctic for oil, compounding climate change in the area, is a "fake scandal", shows that either you are missing the point - reproducing nonsense - or you are just one of the many people who dislike NGOs and like industry. Nothing to be ashamed about if stated clearly.
The campaign itself, to the extent that it was able to mislead people about its authenticity, is all the more important: it shows how vulnerable we are to the corporate b/s that is reproduced by the media under different guises. It calls us to question our own undertanding of issues and whether we accept too many things uncritically. I am confident that NS reader will apply their heightened critical powers to your article.
1) If people can't tell a hoax from real news... as with fraud, the gullibility of the victim doesn't make it less of a 'crime'. In any case the intimidating legal threats were pretty realistic.
2) Stop making things up. I haven't claimed that the exploitation of the Arctic is a "fake scandal". I'm dead against it, myself. It is also ludicrous to suggest that anyone who dares criticize Greenpeace must be anti NGOs and pro-industry.
3) The campaign does show how easy it is to mislead people. It also shows that Greenpeace are dishonest, and willing to resort to the same deceptive tactics as those they criticize.
Erm, that's not made up. The campaign is about the exploitation of the artic. You say: "With real scandals to cover, inventing fake ones isn’t just unnecessary but actually quite crass".
I actually agree with your article's point, but thought it odd to be followed by such contempt for btl commenters.
You have obviously not encountered this guy before. He is well known for being rather thin-skinned and contemptuous of anybody who dares to disagree with him.
"He is well known for being rather thin-skinned"
GO SCREW YOURSELF YOU WORTHLESS BASTARD!!!111!!!!!
The fake scandals he's referring to are the results of the hoax videos/photos, e.g. BP being bold enough to publicly laud opportunities they're to gain from melting ice caps.
I agree with you that the authors tone in the comments could be more diplomatic. In these articles with open comments its easy for an author to undermine themselves by responding confrontationally to criticism.
Good article by the way. Nice to see a publication critique an organisation of whom most of your readers would be supportive. I support Greenpeace myself, but this style of campaigning is totally counter-productive, and like you say, shows considerable contempt for the public.
Spot on. The main problem is that good Yes Men-style hoaxes work best when they're revealed to be hoaxes; the fact of the hoax itself sheds light on the issues behind it. But this doesn't do that. Because it's made of whole cloth - entirely built, layer by layer, on the premise of actions that Shell never actually took - once people discover it's a hoax, their main reaction is a disappointed "oh", or annoyance at being fooled, rather than a closer examination of Shell's behaviour.
It's a hoax that only works when people think it's real - which means keeping the lie going far beyond its justifiable lifespan. And that's a pretty bad position for a campaign group (which elsewhere does excellent, evidence-based research and analysis) to put itself into.
Ah, an article irrelevantly slagging off Greenpeace - and obnoxious, unignorable BP adverts down both sides of my screen.
And it was Halifax ads a few weeks ago! Good old corporate media!
NS - a disgrace
You really don't understand 2 things...
A: How Online advertising works
B: How to cut out ads by using a browser add on.
Google etc, use keywords on pages eg the common subject of a page as a way of judging what the reader is interested in, then sends appropriate ads to be pushed to that reader. If you don't realise that and think it a coincidence or conspiracy that a website just happens to get advertising from the companies being discussed then you really should find out how things work before attacking.
Martin Robbins is a Berkshire-based researcher and science writer. He writes about science, pseudoscience and evidence-based politics. Follow him on Twitter as @mjrobbins.