Critics pile on New York Times’ shale stories

It looks like I wasn’t the only one who had issues with Ian Urbina’s stories in the New York Times on the economic viability of U.S. shale gas.

Industry, media, government, academia, investment firms and others have criticized the articles based on the lack of facts and the use of questionable sources.

The responses range from one by the U.S. Energy Information Administration saying the information it provided Urbina was different than what he included in his story – to a journalist from Forbes who wrote that the “New York Times is all hot air on shale gas.”

All of this criticism reminds me of an interesting post I saw last week by Robert Rapier titled “Media Misinformation Promotes Dysfunctional Energy Policy.” In it, Rapier argues that sensationalism over facts is leading people – regular citizens and politicians alike – to have distorted views of energy that prevent sound policymaking.

That’s clearly not always the case, and in fact the majority of reporters I work with are sincerely trying to be fair and balanced. But Rapier’s post is worth a read, especially since one of his examples involves a never-published editorial on ExxonMobil’s first-quarter 2011 profits that I wouldn’t have known about if he hadn’t done the post. Take a look at Rapier’s R Squared Energy Blog to read more.

Here are the links to some of the commentary on the New York Times’ articles. Energy In Depth has even more on its website.