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The National Anxiety Center

Before I became a practicing journalist, I always wondered where the media got its information about environmental issues. Today, thanks to experience, I am wiser and know that environmental reporting is at best a misnomer. Parroted press releases, decades old "data" and interviews with ostensibly unbiased scientists comprise the bulk of what news outfits allow to get into the mainstream. There is little desire to report anything which goes against the official line.

It's been that way for some time. Ever since the 1960s, the media has been selling the public a line essentially unchanged from propagandistic Club of Rome releases and studies, the ones which stated all life on Earth would be over thanks to massive pollution, overpopulation, and food and resource shortages. Oh yeah, that was all to happen by the early 1980s.

It would be hard to argue that anything has changed except perhaps the date for our demise which keeps being pushed forward. It's called Chicken Little reporting according to the National Anxiety Center, formed in 1990 by Alan Caruba as a response to that style of reporting. It's mission is to provide information to the press from the other side of the debate, information which basically states the sky is not falling and we're doing quite fine, thank you very much.

Caruba does this every week with his Warning Signs news updates which pulls the lid from "environmental lies and liars, political pandering, food police nutcases, animal rights lunatics, and the entire managerie [sic] of mis-information and dis-information."

Besides his weekly news updates, Caruba also offers commentaries -- from why Al Gore resembles the Unabomber to the war on people who drive cars -- and yearly awards for dubious news stores and the aforementioned Chicken Little reporting.

Is the message getting out? There has been a trend, slight as it is, for the media to at least occasionally tell the other side of the story. When it comes down to it, however, journalists still tend to sell the same old story. That means Caruba and the National Anxiety Center still have a lot of work to do.

As entertaining and useful as it is, the NAC's web site does have some flaws. The web site does need a more prominent and standardized navigation system and a centralized site map or index of issues would be useful considering the wide range of subject matter that Caruba deals with. The site's pages also tend to be a bit busy with animated graphics and the index page weighs in at over 140KB, something that could drive surfers with slower connections away.

That said, the NAC web site is a good resource for those who want to hear the other side of the story. The Earth is doing fine and things aren't as bad as Al Gore, environmentalists and the media are telling us. Find out yourself every week at the NAC.

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