What journalists can do globally to report on the climate crisis

Sep 28, 2021 in Specialized Topics
climate

Hurricanes and tropical storms in the U.S., from Louisiana to New York. Floods in Germany. Typhoons in China. Historic droughts in Brazil. Wildfires in Australia. Around the globe, populations with little in common are facing one climate emergency, and its devastating consequences.

Reporters from all over have covered the increasing number of natural disasters, giving voice to affected communities, and explaining how climate change intensifies their impact. 

[Read more: Strategies for dynamic climate change reporting]

 

Today, a global campaign with buy-in from almost 500 newsrooms wants to highlight journalism’s role in telling these stories.

Presented by The Canadian Journalism Foundation and the World Editors Forum, World News Day aims to “draw global public attention to the role that journalists play in providing trustworthy news and information that serves citizens and democracy,” according to its website. The campaign’s theme this year focuses solely on the climate crisis.

 

 

“The issue of climate change, like the COVID-19 pandemic, is a global crisis that requires an enormous collective effort to address, and there is no escaping its effects,” said Alexander Jones, World News Day’s global project coordinator. “[The day] is an important opportunity to demonstrate this reality on a truly global scale.” 

The focus is especially important this year, with the UN Climate Summit COP26, taking place in the U.K. in November, gathering together many world governments.

“News organizations, from international titans to local news champions, are intensifying their commitments to climate reporting,” Jones noted, adding that World News Day’s take is that this work “cannot continue in silos.” The campaign hopes to enable the exchange of stories, tactics and approaches to combat the growing global crisis.

World News Day this year features a collection of climate reporting that newsrooms in every world region have published. It spotlights articles and multimedia stories from large and local outlets alike, full-time beat reporters and freelancers. 

The reporting offers examples of what can be done to address the environmental challenges, like this piece on climate action in the Middle East and North Africa from Al Bawaba in Jordan. New Zealand’s Stuff shared a story on reviving the country’s rivers, and Ghana’s YEN published an article on the effects of climate change in the West African nation.

“Just as we have relied on working journalists to deliver credible news and information on COVID-19, we must also rely on journalists to educate us on the dangers, and solutions, to the climate crisis,” Jones said.

The campaign also features op-eds written by leaders of the initiative. For example, David Walmsley, founder of World News Day and editor-in-chief of Canada’s The Globe and Mail, noted that “a record number of newsrooms across the world have joined this year’s [theme].”

[Read more: Lessons learned during the pandemic for reporting on the climate crisis]

 

“Newsrooms around the world recognize that the news cycle forces journalists to confront such dramatic moments. That is why more reporters are being hired to focus exclusively on the environment,” he wrote. A number of recent job postings support this point: just this month, The New York Times advertised for a climate newsletter writer, while The Washington Post posted a position for a reporter “to cover the federal government's efforts to deal with climate change.”

More than 180 news organizations took part in last year’s World News Day campaign. This year, the campaign has well surpassed its target of 300, with more than 480 outlets on board.

“Beyond that numerical success, the project hopes to demonstrate to the world that reliable, fact-based journalism — journalism that informs, educates and inspires — has an important role to play if citizens are to be reliably informed on issues relating to our planet, and our collective future,” Jones said.


Photo by Matt Palmer on Unsplash.

Jamaija Rhoades contributed to this article.