A petition started by self-proclaimed grassroots human rights organization Forecast the Facts is demanding that reporters cease describing climate change skeptics as such and refer to them only as “climate change deniers” in order to discredit them.
A link at their website implores visitors to join their effort:
Those who deny the facts of man-made climate change would like the media to call them “skeptics” — but scientists think the media should know better. Tell reporters: Don’t call climate change deniers “skeptics.”
The petition even urges the Associated Press to amend their StyleBook to rule out the use of the word in that context and for all other media outlets to follow suit:
Teaming up with Media Matters, Forecast the Facts conducted “research” over three months scouring America’s leading newspapers to find out how many times “skeptic” was used in their stories about climate change. They shared the results on Twitter:
— Forecast The Facts (@ForecastFacts) May 13, 2015
FTF then sent letters to the editors of these papers and have now “opened up dialogue” with at least two of them: The Washington Post and The New York Times. A letter they received in return from NYT Public Editor Margaret Sullivan states, “[R]eaders are right to watch these choices carefully. The difference between skeptic and denier…may seem minor, but it’s really not. Simply put, words matter.”