June 26, 2022



Houston Public Media deletes video created ‘in partnership’ with Chevron after facing backlash, accusations of bias

3 min read

Houston Public Media has spent the week backing away from—and now disappearing—a joint venture and accompanying video series “envisioning the future of energy” made in partnership with Chevron. The multi-media organization acknowledged in a statement Friday that the project may have “created confusion” in its presentation.

The controversy started Tuesday after HPM posted a video to its site and YouTube page featuring energy sector professionals speaking largely in vague platitudes about the importance of innovation amid the “energy transition.” The landing page for the video, which was meant to be the first of 10 in a series named “CounterACT,” noted that it was developed alongside Chevron, but did not explain what role the oil and gas giant might have played in its creation.

The video contained no actual criticism of the energy industry and featured, in one of only three interviews, Chevron Director of New Energies Daniel Droog, who described how Houston was well-positioned to be “a leader in the energy transition.” The video quickly gained notice from journalists.

Brian Kahn, climate editor at Protocol, on Wednesday called the video “absolutely bonkers” and wrote, “This is just straight up repeating industry talking points and a huge conflict of interest.” Dave Levitan, climate reporter for Grid News, noted that the video purportedly about cleaner energy did not show “anyone from a company focused on producing cleaner energy” and that the “resources” tab on the landing page contained only links to Chevron’s website.

“While the video begins with an acknowledgment that the science on climate change ‘is something that has been settled for quite a long time,'” Molly Taft at Gizmodo wrote in a detailed dissection of the series, “there is no mention of how the oil and gas that Chevron produces directly contributes to climate change.”

See also  11 essential Houston drive-thru restaurants

By Thursday night, both HPM and Chevron had deleted tweets promoting the video, which had also been removed from the CounterACT site (it lived on YouTube a bit longer but was taken down Friday). HPM then posted a statement to its Twitter account thanking those who shared concerns about the video while avoiding any apology and denying that Chevron had editorial oversight of the project. “We are reviewing our production process and are suspending the CounterAct series,” it added.

Chevron has long been a supporter of Houston Public Media, and it’s not unusual for a large company in a city to donate to the local public radio or television. But the video, while labeled as a partnership, doesn’t clearly define where Chevron’s influence started or stopped.

HPM’s statement also explained that CounterACT was just one of a series of “sponsored vignettes” called Community Catalysts, all of which HPM is now pausing. “These are not news programs,” the statement said, but that the videos instead air during programming breaks on its digital platforms. Which is how one might also describe commercials.

At end of business Friday, very little is left online of the community catalyst material. The YouTube page for the program still exists, but all except one of the individual landing pages on the Houston Public Media website that are linked from that page have been removed, as have many, if not all, of the YouTube videos.

Copyright © All rights reserved. | Newsphere by AF themes.