Chris White Tech Reporter
January 30, 2020 3:39 PM ET
A popular podcast purporting to reveal the supposed propaganda propping up the oil industry is part of a journalism project designed to prod major media outlets into painting climate change as a crisis.
“Drilled” is depicted in the media as a podcast pursuing objective journalism that seeks to unmask what its host Amy Westervelt calls the public relations ploy driving big oil. But the podcast is also part of Covering Climate Now (CCN), a project some media outlets believe lacks objectivity.
Westervelt announced Drilled News in January, a reporting project run by her podcast network, Critical Frequency. Drilled News’s about page discloses the site’s participation in CCN while noting that the website brings together reporters who make their work available to news outlets.
The former environmental reporter has contributed work with The Guardian and The Washington Post, among other national newspapers, according to a Jan. 27 report from E&E News. The “Drilled” podcast itself is plowing through its third season, the report note
The third season looks “at how the fossil fuels industry leans on two levers to delay action on climate change,” Westervelt told E&E News, referring to what she believes is the oil industry’s layers of propaganda. “The first lever is pro-fossil fuel propaganda, and the second is climate science denial.”
Westervelt said the fossil fuel industry is fine-tuning its “propaganda machine.” Her group’s role in CCN comes as journalists consider making climate advocacy part of their mission.
CCN’s founders kicked off the project in April 2019 and announced in May of that year that they would ask partners to devote a week to climate-related news, starting in September 2019. The project was organized in part by Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), a nonprofit representing professional journalists.
The effort’s target was the lead-up to, and coverage of, the U.N. “Climate Action Summit,” held Sept. 15-23.
The Nation environmental correspondent Mark Hertsgaard co-founded the project under the assumption that modern media were not only underreporting what activists call the climate crisis but are also giving too much air time to the fossil fuel industry.
Most legacy media are unwilling to break away from the idea that journalism should not advocate for a position, according to Hertsgaard. (RELATED: Exclusive: Inside The Media Conspiracy To Hype Greta Thunberg)
“The New York Times is not on there, The Wall Street Journal is not on there, The Washington Post is not on there,” Hertsgaard said in a September 2019 podcast with Kyle Pope, editor and publisher of CJR. Hertsgaard was referring to the major outlets that did not contribute content to CCN.
“This has an aroma — in their minds — of activism,” Hertsgaard continued, explaining why the big three legacy outlets preferred not to join. He and Pope noted Covering Climate Now intends on breaking up that perception by wrapping climate coverage in the blanket of science rather than politics.
Neither Drilled News nor Covering Climate Now responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.