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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Does the Media Brush Aside Positive Reports on Shale Energy to Focus on Negative Ones?

From Natural Gas Now:
Fracking opponents would have us believe modern hydraulic fracturing technology is unstudied, or has only done so by “frackademics.” The term refers to scientists at universities often tainted solely because they they are located in Texas or because they are geologists. Saying geologists are tainted is like saying doctors are prejudiced in a medical diagnosis and it’s best to get a second opinion from a dentist. Or, in the shale “debate” context, the opinion of a rock star, fashion designer or movie star is as valid  – or greater – than those of scientists. 
Good Shale Gas News Tends to Sink Without A Trace 
No less than four recent academic studies have two things in common: Key parts of their conclusions are positive, and in the “conventional” media and thus to the eyes of the public, they sunk without a trace. This ensured Google News flow, which travels downstream to hundreds of local frack-free sites, remains overwhelmingly negative. 
It’s also worth pointing out how many frack-free locations people are setting up anti frack groups in. This is akin to the “nuclear free” zones of the 1980s rarely anywhere near the problem, but which energized the base and convinced others, sympathetic or not, that the movement was far larger than it actually was. 
When Frack Free this and that (fill in the blank) are set up in locations where olive oil production is equally prospective as petroleum (think Vermont), they have three advantages. Magnifying opposition is one, because internet search robots are unable to distinguish between Harvard or MIT and a cleverly named local group. Sites exist in the cloud, but poison the debate in the real world. 
The second advantage is that if there is no local shale developer, local activists won’t be challenged at all and that leads to the third. Most local papers, are likely to give greater credence to anyone simply because they’re local. This means any idiot can get in the local press and often does. It’s a key issue for the industry world-wide, and needs supra-national initiatives to inform the debate.
Read the whole article by clicking here. 

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