Kudos to Times on Chamber Membership

The lead story in today’s special “Business of Green” section in The New York Times is about the controversy over the Chamber of Commerce’s stance on climate change. Reporter John M. Broder notes that some high-profile members have left the group over the issue. And just how big is the Chamber’s membership? Here’s Broder:

The chamber represents its generally conservative membership of 300,000 companies and local business groups on these issues without much public protest.

As CJR has explained, the Chamber’s membership structure is somewhat complex. The national group has roughly 300,000 members. But that list includes local chambers; add in the members of those groups, and the national chamber sits atop a “federation” that numbers about three million.

The Chamber likes to use the larger figure, and “three million” has crept into a lot of reporting on the group, sometimes portrayed without qualification as its “membership.” But as the Chamber itself acknowledges, that portrayal is inaccurate. The simplest, clearest thing for journalists to do is stick with the lower figure—as the Times did here.

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Greg Marx is an associate editor at CJR. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.