Orange County Register Wildfire Coverage Has a Huge Hole in It: Media Watchdog

Categories: OC Media

Orange County fire officials recently held a press conference to go over their strategies and, more importantly, warn the public about an ever-earlier fire season. The Orange County Register covered this, as it did Southern California's recent wildfires, but a media watchdog saw a huge hole in the coverage.

Fret not, Register editorial department: the Associated Press and San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News and U-T San Diego missed it also (while the Los Angeles Times and Sacramento Bee did not): climate change.

"Climate experts warn that rising global temperatures are already leading to more frequent and more severe wildfires and longer fire seasons in the Southwest, calling large fires like those in California 'the new normal.' But several major print outlets in California have failed to make this connection, even after Governor Jerry Brown noted the link Monday," reports the progressive Media Matters for America.

The group reached this conclusion via a Nexis database search for articles in the aforementioned newspaper that mentioned "wildfire or wild fire or forest fire" from Wednesday to Wednesday, May 1-8. The Associated Press was lumped in because papers like the Register carried news service reports on the wildfires.

The climate-change gap is more startling when you consider this:

California's wildfire season kicked off early this year, with record temperatures, heavy winds and ongoing drought conditions fueling fires across the state that have threatened thousands of homes and businesses. California has already experienced 680 wildfires this year--about 200 more than average for this period--and the National Interagency Fire Service is predicting "above normal" potential for significant fires in northern and southern California this season. Meanwhile, the U.S. Forest Service is preparing for a higher number of significant fires across the West.

Seven out of nine fire experts contacted by Media Matters in 2012 "agreed that journalists covering wildfires in the West should explain how human-induced climate change increases the risk of wildfires in that region," the group notes. "But a previous Media Matters analysis found that only 3 percent of national media coverage connected the dots between wildfires and climate change."

Email: Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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JGlanton topcommenter

Sorry Matt, you write some good articles, but this might be the most scientifically illiterate article ever posted on OCW.  There is NO increased drought. The Palmer Drought Severity Index is normal. Global humidity is actually trending up lately. There is NO correlation of CO2 to wildfires. Wildfires have happened in April before.  The northern hemisphere just had the 2nd coldest-wettest springs in recorded history. Hurricanes are at a 100 year low, tornadoes are lower than normal, none of the claimed disasters from global warming are happening. I know that there is a huge desire at OCW to attack the Register at every turn, but you'd make just as much sense to criticize them for not blaming the wildfires on cats. 

And using the political activists at Media Matters as a source about climate change: Priceless. And stupid. Every change in weather is blamed on the hairy hidden hand of carbon emissions by them, but no correlation has ever been found.

tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

What's the difference between a pit bull and a Mexican?

The pit bull doesn't need immigration reform to be welcomed into the United States.

tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

17 MILLION unemployed and out of work from coast to coast and the EDD and/or labor department can't even get it's numbers right and they're saying that "We don't know where all of these people that are unemployed and have dropped off of the employment registers are hiding". One EDD rep actually told me that the employers are setting thier sites too high when they place thier employment synops online, and this is a government worker getting a government paycheck telling me this, a couple of weeks later they shut down the job center where this government worker was at putting her out of a job.

tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

After all is said and done and after the articles are written and posted there are some things that can and can't be changed and the Weakly writes about other stuff that can't be written in mainstream papers. That's why we so-called morons read the stuff but there are some of us that are a bit smarter then the powers that be give us credit for. Would you rather have a dictator telling you what you can read and see?

tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

Gustavo took over the weakly from a white guy and it's never been the same since.

tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

They can write what they want to because someone else is telling them to do so that's why they're called writers and they're PAID TO DO SO AND BE SO, just like the cops are all criminals and all the sinners are saints.

tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

Climate Change is a LIE and I don't read the Conservative Register anymore because they started charging for online news content that's free at other sites.

"There's 2 differences between republinuts and democrats, the republinuts want to keep what's coming to them and the democrats want to give almost everything away". - I think that Bill Mahr said that or he borrowed it off of someone.

JBinOC topcommenter

I'm irritated that this post tap dances around and doesn't rip the Register as much as it deserves...and lumps the distinguished Associated Press in the same box as the Grand Street daily.  On its worst day, the AP (including its tiny OC bureau, and LA bureau) is 1,000x better than the Register on its best day.  

Just as local air travelers are lucky to have a slew of major airports -- John Wayne, LAX, Long Beach, Ontario, etc. -- for their jet travel needs, we're lucky to have the Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, and the OC Weekly to cover news for us.  Thank heavens we don't have to rely on the Register, which of course will sweep climate change under the's bad news in utopia. 

tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

And it's not a good thing that you call your readers morons. It doesn't help your case any. Of curse the street edition is free also. And yes it's a curse not a course.

GustavoArellano moderator editortopcommenter

@tongue_twister_for_t Paper is thinner just like every other paper in America, son! And it's better—why, we have more moron readers like you!

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