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Covering Climate Now

Covering Climate Now is a journalism effort to increase news coverage of climate change co-founded by Columbia Journalism Review and left-wing opinion magazine The Nation. It has also partnered with British left-wing newspaper the Guardian in the effort.

It began in April 2019 and by September 2019, the project had more than 300 media outlets in the project committed to devoting a week to heavy environmentalist coverage in connection with a United Nations Climate Action Summit.

Background

Covering Climate Now is a collaborative project involving Columbia Journalism Review, a magazine published by Columbia Journalism School, and The Nation, a left-wing opinion magazine. The Guardian, a British daily newspaper associated with the country’s left-wing Labour Party, later became a top partner in the project. [1]

The project seeks to increase the prominence of news coverage of climate change and to seed environmentalist narratives throughout news coverage. They have called this “the biggest effort ever undertaken to organize the world’s press around a single topic.” [2] CJR and The Nation announced plans for the collaborative effort in April 2019. [3][4]

As of fall 2019, the initiative included more than 300 media outlets worldwide. [5]

In announcing the project, CJR editor in chief Kyle Pope and The Nation environmental writer Mark Hertsgaard wrote,Reporters and their news organizations sidelined climate stories as too technical or too political or too depressing. Spun by the fossil-fuel industry and vexed by their own business problems, media outlets often leaned on a false balance between the views of genuine scientists and those of paid corporate mouthpieces.” [6]

The two further contend: “Many journalists and news executives continue to see climate coverage as political, and worry that more coverage will be seen as activism. … We think this concern distorts what newsgathering is about. Journalism has always been about righting wrongs, holding the powerful to account, calling out lies.” [7]

Understanding business challenges, Pope and Hertsgaard also wrote, “We want to figure out how to persuade newsroom managers that covering the climate crisis is our journalistic responsibility and also need not lose money.” [8]

The project will provide resource guides, tutorials, source lists and web briefings for journalists and news organizations. In what it calls “the most dramatic cases,” it will deploy “Rapid Response Teams” to newsrooms to cover climate matters, including natural disasters. [9]

Media and Institutional Partners

On behalf of the Schumann Media Center, liberal commentator Bill Moyers, the former press secretary for President Lyndon Johnson, pledged $1 million to support the collaborative effort for the first year. [10]

Among the media organizations to join the project were TV outlets CBS News and PBS News Hour; wire services Bloomberg and AFP; magazines Adweek, CQ/Roll Call, and Newsweek; major newspapers such as the Philadelphia Inquirer, Minneapolis Star TribuneSan Francisco Chronicle, and the Seattle Times; specialty publications NatureScientific American, InsideClimate News, and Harvard Business Review; and left-leaning online media outlets HuffPost, Vox, The Intercept, and Slate. Public radio stations in New York, D.C., Chicago, Boston, New Orleans, Louisville, and San Francisco also joined. [11]

All of the outlets in the project committed to running one week of stories focused on climate change from September 16 through September 23, in the lead up to the United Nations-sponsored Climate Action Summit hosted by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York. [12]

References

  1. Pope, Kyle and Hertsgarrd, Mark. “A New Commitment to Covering the Climate Story.” Columbia Journalism Review. July 26, 2019. September 27, 2019. https://www.cjr.org/covering_climate_now/covering-climate-partnerships.php ^
  2. Pope, Kyle and Hertsgarrd, Mark. “A New Beginning for Climate Reporting.” Columbia Journalism Review. September 16, 2019. Accessed September 27, 2019. https://www.cjr.org/covering_climate_now/climate-crisis-new-beginning.php ^
  3. Pope, Kyle and Hertsgarrd, Mark. “Transforming the Media’s Coverage of the Climate Crisis.” Columbia Journalism Review. May 22, 2019. Accessed September 27, 2019. https://www.cjr.org/watchdog/climate-crisis-media.php ^
  4. Pope, Kyle and Hertsgarrd, Mark. “Transforming the Media’s Coverage of the Climate Crisis.” Columbia Journalism Review. May 22, 2019. Accessed September 27, 2019. https://www.cjr.org/watchdog/climate-crisis-media.php ^
  5. Covering Climate Now. Accessed September 27, 2019. https://www.coveringclimatenow.org/ ^
  6. Pope, Kyle and Hertsgarrd, Mark. “A New Beginning for Climate Reporting.” Columbia Journalism Review. September 16, 2019. Accessed September 27, 2019. https://www.cjr.org/covering_climate_now/climate-crisis-new-beginning.php ^
  7. Pope, Kyle and Hertsgarrd, Mark. “A New Beginning for Climate Reporting.” Columbia Journalism Review. September 16, 2019. Accessed September 27, 2019. https://www.cjr.org/covering_climate_now/climate-crisis-new-beginning.php ^
  8. Pope, Kyle and Hertsgarrd, Mark. “Transforming the Media’s Coverage of the Climate Crisis.” Columbia Journalism Review. May 22, 2019. Accessed September 27, 2019. https://www.cjr.org/watchdog/climate-crisis-media.php ^
  9. Pope, Kyle and Hertsgarrd, Mark. “Transforming the Media’s Coverage of the Climate Crisis.” Columbia Journalism Review. May 22, 2019. Accessed September 27, 2019. https://www.cjr.org/watchdog/climate-crisis-media.php ^
  10. Pope, Kyle and Hertsgarrd, Mark. “Transforming the Media’s Coverage of the Climate Crisis.” Columbia Journalism Review. May 22, 2019. Accessed September 27, 2019. https://www.cjr.org/watchdog/climate-crisis-media.php ^
  11. Pope, Kyle and Hertsgarrd, Mark. “Commitment to Covering the Climate Story.” The Nation. July 26, 2019. Accessed September 27, 2019. https://www.thenation.com/article/covering-climate-now-media-change/ ^
  12. Pope, Kyle and Hertsgarrd, Mark. “Transforming the Media’s Coverage of the Climate Crisis.” Columbia Journalism Review. May 22, 2019. Accessed September 27, 2019. https://www.cjr.org/watchdog/climate-crisis-media.php ^
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