Hit & Run

Mythmaking and "Massive Walkouts" at the Warsaw Climate Change Conference

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Warsaw Walkout 1
Ronald Bailey

Yesterday, a bunch of environmental and social activists staged what they were pleased to call a "massive" walkout from the UN climate change conference venue in Warsaw. I watched it take place and took some cell phone photos,  and then reported that perhaps a 100 activists, or to be really generous, maybe 150, had "massively" walked out.

I returned on Friday to the conference where I hear it repeated numerous times by various remaining members of "civil society" that 800 activists had actually joined the walkout. Then I start googling around and find that some news outlets had reported that number as being factually so, e.g,. Reuters, Environment News Service, and Grist. Really?

Warsaw Walkout 2
Ronald Bailey

Amusingly, as I walked into the National Stadium today, I overhead the following conversation between two young activists while we three waited to hand over our coats at the cloakroom:

He: I walked out yesterday, did you?

She: Yes, but I had to walk back in almost immediately because we had meeting with a delegation.

I kid you not.

When I was a reporter in Central America, I was introduced to the concept of "lying for justice" by some supporters of the Sandinistas who explained to me that sometimes one had to tell lies in order to be heard.

Reports exaggerating theatrical performances of this sort are a disservice to readers, listeners, and viewers of the news.