Press Power

Nearly 200 media outlets are joining forces to focus coverage on the climate crisis in the #CoveringClimateNow project

September 4, 2019

10:27 am

As the effects of climate change wreak havoc with the planet — from historically destructive category 5 hurricanes to ice sheets that face catastrophic melting to Amazon fires causing incalculable damage to the planet’s “lungs” — the stakes have never been higher for Earth’s very existence.

That is especially true given that President Donald Trump has continued to deny the existence of climate change, and has vowed to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2020.

And yet the issue of the climate crisis gets precious little media time, especially relative to the consequences.

That’s why a new announcement of a media partnership — one open to all outlets, all over the world, specifically intended to cover climate change — is so welcome. And so critical.

The effort, called "Covering Climate Now," was co-founded by The Nation and the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) in partnership with the Guardian. The project, notes CJR, “aims to convene and inform a conversation among journalists about how all news outlets — big and small, digital and print, TV and radio, US-based and abroad — can do justice to the defining story of our time.”

And not just cover this developing story, but also craft it in such a way so that, as legendary newsman Bill Moyers suggests, “people get it.”

The number of media organizations, institutions, and individuals who have already signed on is noteworthy: joining the three respected founding organizations are more than 170 other outlets, ranging from TV networks (CBS), wire services (Bloomberg), and major U.S. newspapers (San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer), to popular magazines (Vanity Fair, Newsweek, Rolling Stone), podcasts (Global GoalsCast), and influential digital outlets (Slate, BuzzFeed News). There are also significant international media onboard, including those in Japan, Australia, Turkey, Canada, and the UK, among many others.

“Each of these outlets has committed to running one week of focused climate coverage,” says CJR, “to begin September 16 and culminate September 23, the day of the landmark international Climate Action Summit hosted by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in New York.”

“Covering Climate Now now ranks as one of the most ambitious efforts ever to organize the world’s media around a single coverage topic,” notes The Nation.

For context, The Nation adds that the media needs to make value judgments as to what to present to the public, and for too long we’ve been valuing the wrong stories. “To elevate climate coverage, as the #CoveringClimateNow collaboration aims to do, is no more of a value judgment than it is to sideline such coverage. For many years now, most of the news media, at least in the United States, has done the latter. The major TV networks devoted more air time in a week this spring to a new royal baby in Britain than they did in the entire year to the climate crisis story. When last October’s IPCC report was released, 28 of the 50 biggest U.S. newspapers didn’t bother to tell their readers about it.”

Let’s hope that a groundswell of support from this many important global news organizations can help inform and invigorate public opinion about the crisis.

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