- Rupert Murdoch’s Australian news outlets plan on shifting their approach to climate change.
- The newspapers and Sky News TV channel internally promised to roll back climate change denial.
- They will also push for net zero emissions by 2050, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
After decades of dismissing the scientific consensus behind climate change and attacking carbon reduction measures, news outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch in Australia will reverse course starting in mid-October, according to The New York Times and The Sydney Morning Herald.
The PR move will also include the Murdoch properties advocating for net zero emissions from the world’s largest economies by 2050, first reported by the Morning Herald.
Through 2019 and 2020 as wildfires ravaged large swaths of the continent, public outrage toward Murdoch newspapers and the 24-hour Sky News TV channel grew on social media and increasingly seeped into Australian political debate.
News Corp, where Murdoch serves as chairman after it spun off 21st Century Fox and its major properties such as Fox News in the US, did not comment to the Times or Morning Herald. A spokesperson for News Corp did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The internal deliberations come ahead of the November climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, according to the Morning Herald.
Starting on October 17, News Corp “will run a two-week campaign that will advocate for a carbon net zero target to be reached by 2050, which is expected to focus heavily on jobs in a decarbonised economy, particularly blue-collar industries such as mining, resources and agriculture,” according to sources who spoke to the Morning Herald. Part of that campaign will involve tabloid mastheads featuring the net zero emissions messaging, the Morning Herald reports.
Climate change deniers and skeptics will be limited in their appearances, but the shift will not amount to a “muzzle” of those conservative pundits, according to the Morning Herald.
The News Corp outlets’ coverage of the Australian wildfires became international news in its own right over the course of 2019 and 2020, culminating in James Murdoch, one of Rupert’s sons, breaking ranks and accusing his family of promoting climate denialism.
James subsequently resigned from the News Corp board in August 2020, while his brother Lachlan continues to serve as executive chairman and CEO of the Fox Corporation, which owns Fox News.
Sky News, the most prominent Murdoch outlet in Australia, has been the subject of the most intense backlash for its climate coverage.
One of its hosts called climate change a “a fraudulent and dangerous cult” that has been “driven by unscrupulous and sinister interests.”
Sky News was also suspended from YouTube in August for breaking the website’s coronavirus misinformation policy.
Michael E. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, spoke to the Times about the reported PR shift from News Corp and held his praise pending actual changes in coverage.
“Color me skeptical,” Mann said. “Until Rupert Murdoch and News Corp call off their attack dogs at Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, who continue to promote climate change disinformation on a daily basis, these are hollow promises that should be viewed as a desperate ploy to rehabilitate the public image of a leading climate villain.”