Meteorologists Chris Gloninger Battle Harassment
TV meteorologists across the United States are facing increasing harassment and backlash from viewers as they connect extreme weather events to climate change in their local weather reports. Meteorologist Chris Gloninger experienced this firsthand as he received outraged emails and even threats after reporting on climate change during his newscasts. The hostile political landscape and growing skepticism of the news media have contributed to this anti-science trend that extends beyond meteorologists to various nonpartisan professions.
Gloninger, who had been encouraged to address climate change in his reporting, eventually decided to leave his 18-year career in broadcast journalism after the backlash became overwhelming. His experience resonated with other meteorologists at a national conference, where they shared their own stories of harassment and threats received from viewers.
Meteorologists have long endured abuse, but the intensity has escalated in recent years. Sharing information about climate change has often led to name-calling and derogatory remarks. However, in the past decade, more TV meteorologists have started discussing climate change on air, highlighting its effects and addressing its impact on local weather patterns.
Despite the importance of reporting on climate change, the criticism can be loud and disproportionate. A few negative voices should not deter meteorologists from informing the majority of viewers who are interested in understanding climate-related issues affecting their communities.
Interestingly, public interest in climate change has grown even in conservative-leaning states as people witness the consequences of severe weather events. Farmers, for example, rely on weather forecasts to make informed decisions, making climate change reporting vital for their livelihoods.
Harassment of meteorologists is not exclusive to the United States. Meteorologists in other countries, including Spain, France, Australia, and the U.K., have also faced complaints and harassment.
While some meteorologists do not attribute the harassment directly to their reporting on climate change, it remains a pervasive issue in the industry that affects some more than others. TV reporters tend to experience more harassment and threats compared to journalists in other mediums.
The widening gap in confidence between Republicans and Democrats in the scientific community and the news media reflects a concerning trend. Both sides have experienced declining trust, indicating a broader attack on science in the country.
Moving forward, it is crucial to recognize and address the underlying issue of science denial and harassment. The Union of Concerned Scientists emphasizes the need to protect scientists and journalists who face threats for simply stating factual information.
For Gloninger, the overwhelming support he received after his decision to leave his position demonstrated that the negative comments he received were not representative of the beliefs of most Iowans. Despite the challenges, he acknowledged the support of the public and the efforts made by his station to cover climate change issues
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