NEWS: Shell chief knocks media over simplistic coverage

The Brent Spar debate raised fundamental questions over the reporting of environmental issues, Shell UK chairman and chief executive Dr Chris Fay said this week.

The Brent Spar debate raised fundamental questions over the reporting of

environmental issues, Shell UK chairman and chief executive Dr Chris Fay

said this week.



Speaking in Cardiff at the Centre for Journalism Studies conference -

Reporting the Environment - Dr Fay said the media had failed to convey

the complex science and technology issues central to the environmental

process.



‘My point is that environmental science is much more complex than the

impression we often gain from the media,’ he said in a speech entitled:

‘Not Black and White but Shades of Green’.



He added: ‘I can appreciate that describing technical data and detailed

risk evaluation is difficult for busy journalists. But it reflects the

reality of the choices society must make.’



Dr Fay also accused Greenpeace of managing the debate with ‘simplistic

allegations’ and exploiting TV imagery.



‘Like all good spin doctors, they knew how to manage the debate with a

flow of simplistic allegations - the daily ‘curve ball’.



‘They knew that activists in rubber boats among the massive ironmongery

of the North Sea made good television; David and Goliath,’ he added.



He said Shell had faced difficulties getting its arguments heard among

‘such compelling visuals, simple arguments and sensational allegations’.



But Fay admitted Shell had been slow to communicate its standpoint to

overseas audiences - those with ‘less understanding of the local

context’. He said Brent Spar had also raised issues over how to

reconcile wealth creation and environmental protection.



According to Fay, companies will need to become ‘more open about their

activities, more ready to debate issues and more responsive to people’s

concerns’ in the future.



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