Letter: When balance is unnecessary

23:00, Jan 29 2013

Columnist Karl du Fresne's defence of balance in journalism (Opinion, Jan 25) has both merit and drawbacks (a balanced criticism).

For many years, the New Zealand print media bent over backward to provide ''balance'' in discussions on the adverse health effects of tobacco and the effect of greenhouse gases on global warming, thereby giving much comfort to the purveyors of tobacco and fossil fuels.

Tobacco companies lost the battle for balance some time ago in the face of overwhelming evidence of tobacco's adverse health effects, but only lately has the news media accepted that greenhouse gas effects are real and terrifying, and given reduced coverage to the fossil fuel lobby.

Balance in the media is often admirable when dealing with social or political arguments. Balance that gives comfort to lobby groups arguing against overwhelming scientific evidence is far from admirable, especially if politicians can use the ''debate'' to delay taking unpalatable action.

PETER WARING

Eketahuna

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