side of the equation? The second criticism is that we ignore it, or that we badly report science, or that we speculate wildly. Stephen Schneider says we have to have news told four ways: drama, disaster, debate, or dichotomy. To that I plead, "Uncertainty."
The media is this great, imperfect information machine that puts out news hourly, daily, sometimes weekly. A newspaper like the Denver Post, for example, puts out the equivalent of two or three books in 24 hours; most of that news is written in an 8-hour shift. We are, what I like to call, the first rough draft of history. But like you, who spend your life, say, perfecting a model, we spend ours trying to improve on that machine—trying to produce better, clearer, more useful information. We have our problems. We get tired of stories, for instance. That's one of the problems with covering trends or long-term stories. But I think in that way we are a reflection of people. They get tired of stories, too; they get tired of bad news. We also are easily manipulated; I think a good example is the alar scare. We report too many football scores and too many stories like football games. We are not in the "truth" business; we are in the "perception" business. And we often act like a herd, or another analogy might be like bacteria in a petri dish: stories are reproduced to excess and then die off.
On the global warming issue, we have some specific problems. One is localizing, and I noticed in your talks that this is one you have problems with, too. How do you make that come home to the reader? "How is it going to affect me?" is a question we always ask of any story. Two, what's the evidence? What can a television camera take a picture of about global warming? And three is this question of probabilities. I don't think that's as much a problem as you think, because we report probabilities all the time in terms of health research about cancer risks and that kind of thing.
On the positive side, we put out another paper tomorrow. Competition keeps us honest and alert. We balance our views. We tend to be pro-environment. At the Denver Post, for example, we have three environmental reporters and we make it front-page news. And, we have raised this particular issue, as Helen Ingram mentioned, sufficiently to help generate a billion dollars for research. I think we do a reasonable job of science reporting—whether it's on cold fusion or the cholesterol issue or global warming. I think most readers are aware (and we may hear more about this because there's some research that has been done) of the "certainty of warming." We quite accurately reflect the "uncertainty" of the consequences and of the policy. We have a sense of what people will read and what will help make them read it. If they turn