Alberta's Nemeth report swiftly condemned by Canadian Association of Journalists

· The Pulse
By Mack Male
in the Media Roundup

The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) is condemning the Nemeth report, produced as part of the Alberta government's $3.5 million inquiry into international opposition to the oilsands.

The $28,000 report, titled A New Global Paradigm: Understanding the Transnational Progressive Movement, the Energy Transition and the Great Transformation Strangling Alberta’s Petroleum Industry, criticizes Canadian media outlets and argues there has been "an unprecedented collusion of media organizations" in recent years covering climate change. Report author Tammy Nemeth claims that a "transnational progressive movement" is attempting to overthrow the "modern western industrial capitalist society."

The CAJ "rejects this conspiratorial mischaracterization of the work undertaken by Canadian climate journalists," the association said in a news release.

"Journalists have a moral obligation to clearly inform the public of any catastrophic threat, whether it's the coronavirus or climate change," said CAJ president Brent Jolly. "Reporting on climate change should not be seen as an act of advocacy; it is the telling of a very real truth that is unequivocally backed up by scientific facts."

Fort McMurray, Alberta - Operation Arctic Shadow (Kris Krug/Flickr) Fort McMurray, Alberta - Operation Arctic Shadow (Kris Krug/Flickr)

Other journalists have also condemned the report.

“The idea that paying attention to climate change as a full-time journalistic beat is somehow an act of advocacy is a complete misunderstanding of the role of journalism in a democracy,” said Mark Hertsgaard, co-founder and executive director of Covering Climate Now, in an interview with VICE. That story was picked up by USA Today in an article called: Biden takes aim at fossil fuels, while Alberta, Canada, takes aim at journalists.

Canada's The Narwhal called the report "the most recent public embarrassment" for Alberta's United Conservative Party (UCP).

The Nemeth report is now being used as evidence by others to argue against climate change. For instance, the Calgary-based Friends of Science Society featured a presentation from University of Alabama researcher Roy Spencer last month that was based in part on the report.

Further information was expected to be released following the Jan. 31 deadline of the inquiry headed by Steve Allen, of which the Nemeth report is a part. But now that inquiry has been granted another extension to May 31.

“Cabinet has granted the commissioner’s request for an extension to ensure he is able to complete a comprehensive investigation into a possible well-funded foreign campaign aimed at discrediting the province’s energy sector,” Peter Brodsky, press secretary for Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage, wrote in an email to Global News.

For more reaction, listen to CANADALAND's Short Cuts #294, co-hosted by new contributing editor Danielle Paradis.