Getting adequate media coverage on Climate Change in Rochester, NY has been a long struggle. While not openly denying Climate Change, most local media fail to connect the dots between the local consequences of this worldwide crisis. This leads the public to think that Climate Change is not a local issue that needs public support for planning and a citizenry not engaged in the crisis of our age.
What may happen if mainstream media continues to bury this crisis as a separate silo of concern? For one, these former leaders of the public communication networks may become null and void. The public will go elsewhere to find out about their reality of a warming world and leave the media that only panders to their prurient interests far behind.
This is what great news coverage of last Sunday’s downtown march, complete with police escort, looks like:
Rochester Rallys for Climate Justice Over 400 people attended the Rochester March for Global Climate Action on Sunday November 30 2015. The event coincided with United Nations Climate Summit beginning that day in Paris, France. President Obama and 140 other world leaders are attending the summit. A large march in Paris had to be cancelled due to the recent armed terror attacks on November 13. But people turned out in solidarity in over 2200 cities around the world including Rochester. The event was organized by the Rochester People's Climate Coalition, formed in 2014. (December 2, 2015) INDY Media Rochester
Two events during the proceedings stand out in my mind: The City of Rochester’s Commissioner of Environmental Services spoke eloquently about how Rochester absolutely has to address Climate Change. Climate deniers have the luxury of carping about the inconvenience of Climate Change, but governmental officials do not. It’s the job of our public officials to protect us from clear and present dangers. This talk before the march gives great credibility to the importance that Climate Change plays in our present lives.
The other event was when the Rochester police, who helped guide our march, allowed 400 of us to take over one of the bridges downtown for a few minutes so we could take photos.
Granted there was some minimal coverage of the march by other media:
- · Rochester Marches in Support of U.N. Climate Change Conference – Minority Reporter, 11/30/15
- · The City Seen: November 29 – City Newspaper, 11/30/15
- · Climate Justice March in Rochester – Pace e Bene, 11/30/15
- · Rochester Leaves its Footprint on La Marche Global – Talker of the Town, 11/29/15
- · Hundreds March to Support United Nation’s 2015 Climate Change Conference – Time Warner Cable News, 11/29/15
- · Climate Change Rally in Rochester – News 8 WROC, 11/29/15
- · March to Support Paris UN Climate Conference – Good Day Rochester on 13WHAM, 11/26/15
And there was valuable pre-march coverage that explained why we were marching, which went far in getting 400+ folks to the march.
- · Paris May Be Last, Best Chance to Achieve Carbon Cuts – City Newspaper, 11/25/15
- · 12 Days of Climate Bring Awareness to Global Warming – Democrat & Chronicle, 11/24/15
- · What to Expect from the UN Climate Change Conference – WXXI Connections, 11/23/15
I know, if our march was a sports event these numbers would look pathetic. But for local public concern about Climate Change, getting 400 folks out into the streets just after Thanksgiving on a cold day is amazing.
The problem with the coverage was its lack of prominence in our mainstream media. Our march not only didn’t appear above the fold in our major newsprint media, it didn’t appear anywhere. (Don’t you miss the old days in Rochester when we had competing print media?) Most of the TV stations didn’t show up, none of the radio stations, and our public media was not there. Which meant we marched alone—all four hundreds of us with no onlookers cheering us on to a successful Paris.
So, instead of engaging with the rest of the 700,000 folks in Monroe County, we were left in large measure to selfies, which by the way we did very well. Check out this incredible interaction on the event’s Facebook page.
If mainstream media continues to ignore Climate Change, other media venues will pick up this crucial role. One of the more fascinating ways to reach the public has been social media, especially one social media that connects all Rochesterians in all our neighborhoods. Nextdoor.com is a wonderful way for neighbors to message neighbors about pending crimes, yard sales, finding specialized contractors, and even discussing local stuff. Later, after I posted the press release for our local march, an explosion of actual interactions on Climate Change took place amongst ordinary local folks. For a moment, lost cats and yard sales gave way to a local focus and discussion within a media that includes all neighbors who are concerned with all sorts of stuff. Although we discovered (in over 100 exchanges) that there is still deep cynicism about Climate Change locally we found many opportunities for enlightenment. We need to break through our silos and discuss Climate Change in all venues where local folks lives are concerned.
They say (I know, Yogi said it best), it ain’t over until it’s over, and Paris still has many days to go. In Rochester you can stay focused locally on the Paris Climate Summit by checking out the rest of the 12 Days of Climate:
“Following our November 29th kick-off celebration at Rochester’s March for Global Climate Action, RPCC’s Twelve Days of Climate will span the length of the 21st UN Conference on Climate Change. Twelve Days of Climate is a series of opportunities for Rochesterians to join the fight against climate change. Each day highlights a distinct approach to solving the climate crisis, and actions you can take. See the calendar here” (from Rochester People’s Climate Coalition)
Indymedia’s* coverage of the march was the best because they stayed with us. They videoed the speakers’ speeches and allowed the public to express their hopes and concerns as our warming planet gets warmer. When most of those media outlets who are supposed to be informing the public about important stuff were out shopping (or whatever they do on a ‘non-news day’), at least one media stayed with us for the long haul, the long dramatic struggle to get the rest of the public to pay attention to this worldwide crisis.
What has to jump out at you on the COP21 Climate Summit in Paris proceedings is the great silence from our local media at this historic moment. At the end of the COP21, we will be living on a different planet: one where its brainy inhabitants will curb their irresponsible energy use, or one will we will have given up on our collective ability to solve big problems—threatening the future for all. But still, despite all that has passed on Climate Change, our local media either doesn’t know how or is unwilling to report on something that will have profound impacts on every aspect of our lives—even in Rochester.
* “… a non-commercial, democratic collective of Rochester area independent media makers and media outlets, and serves as the local organizing unit of the global Indymedia network.”