Generally (not always, of course, but as a rule) "scientific consensus" emerges after extensive testing of a hypothesis. If a ground-breaking paper is published, scientists don't line up to endorse it, to create a "consensus." They do their damnedest to test it, to probe for weaknesses, to disprove. If a consensus emerges, that's usually because these efforts to disprove... fail. Replications succeed.
That's why it's more relevant that 97% of active research climate scientists are convinced that climate change is a serious problem, than that 40,000 random "scientists" in other fields sign off on some statement suggesting it's all just hokum. A real scientific consensus occurs when the relevant researchers conclude that a hypothesis is likely correct, because try as they might, they cannot falsify it.
As for the mainstream media - yeah, they're mostly almost as ignorant about science as the general public. I agree with "go to the data." Read the journal articles yourself - it can be a slog for a layman, but you can educate yourself. Sort out the difference between 100 active researchers in a field who have concluded something is real, and one emeritus Ph.D. in a completely different field, who may have a Nobel Prize in that other field, who for whatever reason decides he knows better than all the people who have actually done the work - or one guy who's been on a corporate payroll for 20 years, and somehow reaches conclusions that are diametrically opposed to those of everybody else in the field, but very convenient for his employers. Duh.