Presently, in the USA there are many occasions “… where contrarians and sceptics should be included within climate change and sustainability debates”(1) because an appalling amount of US Climate Change news stems from a federal government dominated by contrarians and sceptics. So, if your American media has a crib sheet for its reporters on their editorial policy towards Climate Change, it’s going to read differently than, say, the UK’s.
Exclusive: BBC issues internal guidance on how to report climate change The BBC, one of the world’s largest and most respected news organisations, has issued formal guidance to its journalists on how to report climate change. Carbon Brief has obtained the internal four-page “crib sheet” sent yesterday to BBC journalists via an email from Fran Unsworth, the BBC’s director of news and current affairs. The crib sheet includes the BBC’s “editorial policy” and “position” on climate change. All of the BBC’s editorial staff have also been invited to sign up for a one-hour “training course on reporting climate change”. Carbon Brief understands this is the first time that the BBC has issued formal reporting guidance to its staff on this topic. The move follows a ruling earlier this year by Ofcom, the UK’s broadcasting regulator, which found that BBC Radio 4’s flagship current-affairs programme Today had breached broadcasting rules by “not sufficiently challenging” Lord Lawson, the former Conservative chancellor. (September 7, 2018) Carbon Brief [more on Climate Change in our area]
Overall though, this is a good question to ask at this moment in time (in a quickly warming world): Is your media training its reporters on Climate Change reporting? If they are, what priority does your media give Climate Change? The BBC policy mentioned above is a good start and a quick guideline for mainstream media, but what about local media?
How much of local reporting on Climate Change is influenced by the political landscape? In other words, is mentioning Climate Change held back because it might offend a portion of their readership not comfortable (or hostile to) this worldwide warming?
Does local media receive feedback one way or the other on Climate Change—or, when they occasionally do a news story in Climate Change, is it an issue their readership doesn’t show any apparent interest in?
How often does a local media outlet (radio, TV, newsprint, podcast) do investigative reporting on Climate Change in their region? Do they understand the possible connection between the increase in heavy precipitation in our region, the increase of harmful algae outbreaks in our lakes, and diseases like Lyme disease and Climate Change in our region?
Does our local media feel compelled to report about Climate Change only when environmentalists, or widely published studies, or a national media mentions it against a backdrop of increased wildfires, flooding, extreme weather, or other outside references?
Although our local media feels compelled to report on many national and international events (especially sports), why haven’t they felt compelled to mention anything about the Global Climate Action Summit in California this week? It’s ironic that the most important get-together on addressing Climate Change on one side of our country is occurring at the same time a ‘monstrous’ extreme weather storm is thrashing the other side of our continent without even a suggestion by our local media that the one major event might be connected to the other. [See: Here’s How Climate Change Put Hurricane Florence On Steroids (September 13, 2018, BuzzFeed)] The Global Climate Action Summit should get attention in our local media, like it does in mainstream media:
Global Climate Action Summit puts stress on action This has been a big week for advocates who fight climate change. Business leaders, mayors, governors and activists from around the world rallied in San Francisco at the Global Climate Action Summit to advance their agenda in the face of a defiant White House. California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an order Monday announcing the goal to eliminate carbon emissions in the state within 27 years. He also just signed a bill into law, making the state's electricity completely emissions-free by 2045. Brown signed as the White House reportedly enacted another policy to stymie such efforts, this time by relaxing methane emission regulations. (September 14, 2018) CBS News [more on Climate Change in our area]
Wouldn’t it be interesting to see all American media, local and national, post a story about their media’s position on Climate Change and maybe a statement about their commitment to inform the public about this worldwide crisis?
In retrospect, if our future affords the opportunity, it will be interesting to see how today’s media coverage of Climate Change will be assessed a century from now. Will our great-grandchildren say our media did a good job, or just concede that there just wasn’t enough interest or exact enough science to make a strong, urgent, and continual case for action? I’m thinking they’ll be pissed.