A new commitment to covering the climate story

“Can we tell the story so people get it?”

That’s the mission TV newsman Bill Moyers urged at the launch of Covering Climate Now, a project aimed at breaking the climate silence that has long prevailed within too much of the news media. Co-founded by The Nation and the Columbia Journalism Review, in partnership with The Guardian, Covering Climate Now 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.

Today, Covering Climate Now is proud to announce the first batch of news outlets participating in this effort. More than 60 outlets have signed on so far, with more on the way. There are TV networks (CBS News) and local TV stations; major newspapers in the US (The Philadelphia Inquirer, Minneapolis Star Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times) and abroad (Asahi Shimbun and la Repubblica, the biggest newspapers in Japan and Italy, respectively); eminent specialist publications (Nature, Scientific American, InsideClimate News, Harvard Business Review); distinguished digital publications (HuffPost, Vox, The Intercept, Slate); regional outlets (The Texas Observer, Colorado Springs Gazette); public radio stations (in New York City; Washington, DC; Chicago; Philadelphia; Boston; New Orleans; Louisville; and San Francisco) and public-radio programs (Marketplace, Science Friday, The World); popular magazines (Maclean’s of Canada, Newsweek Japan); leading individual and institutional voices (author Bill McKibben; the radio and TV program Democracy Now!; Channel 4 UK correspondent Alex Thomson; veteran TV meteorologists Dan Satterfield, Mike Nelson, and Paul Gross); and many more.

Each of these outlets has committed to running one week of focused climate coverage, 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. We’re not here to tell people what to write or broadcast. All that’s required is for each outlet to make a good faith effort to increase the amount and the visibility of its climate coverage—to make it clear to their audiences that climate change is not just one more story but the overriding story of our time. The point is to give the climate story the attention and prominence that scientists have long said it demands so that the public and policymakers can make wise choices. Can we, in other words, tell the story so people get it?

 

We see Covering Climate Now as a fulfillment of journalism’s most sacred responsibilities, which are to inform people and foster constructive debate about common challenges and opportunities. Arguably, no problem in today’s world is more challenging, or offers brighter opportunities. In a report last October, scientists with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that humanity had just 12 years to slash heat-trapping emissions in half or else face catastrophic temperature rise and the record-breaking extreme weather it unleashes. Meanwhile, spectacular advances in solar, wind and energy efficiencyillustrate how doing right by the climate can make our societies better, not worse, if we’re smart about it.

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To elevate climate coverage 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 US, 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 climatestory. When last October’s IPCC report was released, 28 of the 50 biggest newspapers in the US didn’t bother to tell their readers about it. 

Here are the names of the journalistic leaders that have signed on to the Covering Climate Now initiative. If you don’t see your favorite news outlets among them, ask those outlets to get in touch with us. We would welcome their participation.

We can be reached at coveringclimatenow@cjr.org

List (as of July 25, 2019)

Print & Online Newspapers and Magazines:

  1. The Columbia Journalism Review
  2. The Nation
  3. The Guardian
  4. The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com
  5. HuffPost
  6. The Minneapolis Star Tribune
  7. Nature (UK)
  8. Scientific American
  9. The Conversation (UK)
  10. Asahi Shimbun (Japan)
  11. la Repubblica (Italy)
  12. Newsweek Japan (Japan)
  13. The Seattle Times
  14. Vox
  15. Slate
  16. The Intercept
  17. The Texas Observer
  18. The Coast (Canada)
  19. Harvard Business Review
  20. The (Colorado Springs) Gazette
  21. The Nepali Times (Nepal)
  22. CQ & Roll Call
  23. Mongabay
  24. Maclean’s (Canada)
  25. National Catholic Reporter
  26. Yale Climate Connections
  27. Clean Energy Wire (Germany)
  28. IEEE Spectrum
  29. Talking Points Memo
  30. The Alpinist
  31. Rock and Ice
  32. La Tercera (Chile)
  33. Stuff (New Zealand)
  34. Newsroom (New Zealand)
  35. The Spinoff (New Zealand)
  36. Literary Hub
  37. Ecosystem Marketplace
  38. Renewable Energy World
  39. Ensia
  40. Jolon Indian Media
  41. Croakey Health Media (Australia)
  42. Planet Friendly News (Canada)
  43. San Francisco Chronicle
  44. Bay Nature
  45. Sludge
  46. The Shoestring
  47. The Junction (Australia)
  48. The Tyee
  49. InsideClimateNews
  50. Nexus Media

 

TV & Radio:

  1. CBS News (national)
  2. WNYC (public radio station for New York City area)
  3. WHYY (public radio station for Philadelphia area)
  4. WAMU (public radio station for Washington, DC, area)
  5. WBEZ (public radio station for Chicago area)
  6. WBUR (public radio station for Boston area)
  7. WFPL (public radio station for Louisville, KY area)
  8. WWNO (public radio station for New Orleans area)
  9. KQED (public radio station for San Francisco Bay area)
  10. Marketplace, daily business show of American Public Media
  11. The World, daily global news show of PRI and BBC
  12. Science Friday, public radio news program distributed by WNYC Studios
  13. Dan Satterfield, chief meteorologist, WBOC-TV, CBS affiliate in Salisbury, Maryland
  14. Mike Nelson, chief meteorologist, Channel 7 Denver, ABC affiliate in Denver
  15. Paul Gross, chief meteorologist, WDIV, NBC affiliate in Detroit
  16. The Years Project/Years Of Living Dangerously
  17. Politically Aweh, TV news show (South Africa)
  18. Elemental: Covering Sustainability (regional collaborative of PBS and NPR stations in Denver, Phoenix and Los Angeles)
  19. Democracy Now! (national radio and TV show)
  20. The Global GoalsCast

 

Independent Journalists (outlets listed for identification purposes only):

  1. Bill McKibben, writer
  2. David Biello, TED Talks
  3. Alex Thomson, chief correspondent, Channel 4 News (UK)
  4. Yereth Rosen, formerly Anchorage Daily News
  5. Rex Dalton, formerly Nature
  6. Isabel Seta (Brazil)
  7. Michael Tatarski (Vietnam)
  8. Sean Holman (Canada)
  9. Nivedita Khandekar (India)
  10. Preti Jha (Singapore)
  11. Don Paul, contributing meteorologist, The Buffalo News
  12. Peter Schwartzstein, freelance Middle East environment correspondent

 

Institutions:

  1. Climate Matters (Climate Central, George Mason University Center for Climate Communications, and Climate Communications)
  2. Solutions Journalism Network
  3. Boston University
  4. The Lancet Countdown On Climate Change and Health

RELATED: Transforming the media’s coverage of the climate crisis

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Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope are the authors. Mark Hertsgaard, The Nation’s environment correspondent, has covered climate change since 1989. His books include On Bended Knee: The Press And The Reagan Presidency, Earth Odyssey: Around The World In Search Of Our Environmental Future, and HOT: Living Through The Next Fifty Years On Earth. Kyle Pope is the editor and publisher of Columbia Journalism Review.