For our latest season of the Media Voices Podcast, kindly sponsored by Poool, we’ve published ten episodes exploring the biggest trends of 2022 and how they affect publishers; from podcasts and newsletters to advertising, subscriptions, trust and more. Our tenth and final episode looks at how climate coverage is coming to the forefront of publisher strategies, and how journalists are evolving the way they communicate climate issues with their audiences.

Climate journalism is becoming an increasingly valuable part of a media company’s portfolio. This speaks both to the growing concern and interest the public have in climate change, and also the willingness of advertisers to support reporting and initiatives. Despite that, 2022 has seen many of the big developments around climate journalism come from cross-industry organisations and collectives rather than solo newspapers.

The biggest change has been the recognition that climate needs to be something that is covered by every department, not just by a single reporter or section. It now affects our daily lives in a very real way, and is something that should be brought into business, fashion, politics and more.

We’ve seen a number of fellowships launched in previous years bearing fruit. One common point is that reporters covering climate change often share similar frustrations, wherever they are based. From editors that cling on to climate denialism or delayism to the inability to effect change in the face of lobbying efforts, it speaks to the global nature of not just climate change as a phenomenon, but of the shared challenges that come with having to report on it.

Joining us on the final episode of this season is Meera Selva, CEO of Internews Europe; a global non-profit that supports journalists and media organisations worldwide. Last year, she designed and launched the Oxford Climate Journalism Network with Wolfgang Blau and the Reuters Institute to work with newsrooms worldwide to structurally change how climate is covered.

Here are some highlights:

What has changed in climate reporting this year

Meera: We’ve seen a massive change in the way the industry covers climate, partly because extreme weather events have become far more frequent and far more dramatic. This is events like the terrible floods in Pakistan, but also the storms that were destroying bridges in Florida. Then in the UK, we see extreme weather on a more frequent basis, so people are seeing this literally outside their windows.

If journalism’s point is to look out the window and tell you whether it’s raining, it’s raining!

We’re also seeing that audiences are making it clear they want more reporting on this subject. Climate change is a topic that really appeals to younger audiences. It’s taken far too long for editors to understand that the topic is fundamental to the way people see the world. If you’re a teenager, the climate crisis is the equivalent of the nuclear crisis, or the fears of the Cold War. The things that make you wonder if you’re going to grow up in a world at all.

Centring climate coverage

Peter: Wolfgang Blau wrote about [lessons climate coverage can take from Covid] – how everyone had to become a Covid reporter, so whether you’re reporting on science, or business, or health, or sport, Covid factored in your coverage. That’s what we find people are arguing now – everyone should be a climate reporter, because of the enormity of the challenges that we’re all facing. Everyone needs to find that angle and report that angle.

Just having a couple of reporters in the corner, or a climate desk, isn’t enough any more. I think that conversation properly started this year.

Chris: So it’s more of a horizontal than vertical – it’s something that’s across every type of reporting. I’ve actually seen it quite a lot this year in sports coverage, in terms of going out to places and greenwashing of destinations, but also how extreme weather is going to disrupt sport.

Experimentation in how to communicate the climate crisis

Meera: I think we’ve seen brilliant, innovative visual journalism to illustrate the climate crisis. We’ve seen phenomenal data journalism, one area where we’ve seen incredible changes, and also news games and visualisations.

I think it goes to a fundamental point about not wanting to put people off news – and news avoidance is a growing issue. With climate reporting in particular, the research shows that people react best when reporting is accompanied by action. So the idea that there is something going on here, so what can you do about it?

It’s very easy to run campaigns saying, recycle, use [reusable] bags, don’t fly on your holidays. But we also need action to be to put pressure on policymakers, put pressure on governments, put pressure on corporations to fundamentally change the way they do business and the way they view the fossil fuel industry. So it’s important that journalists and journalism doesn’t get too focused on the individual.

This is a systemic crisis that requires a systemic response, and that means ultimately we need to put pressure on the policymakers and the powerful to change their way of thinking as well.

This topic will be one of the chapters we explore in detail as part of our Media Moments 2022 report, launching on November 30th. Find out more and pre-register here to receive the report.

This season of Media Voices is sponsored by Poool, the Membership and Subscription Suite used by over 120 publishers from around the world. The team behind Poool are industry experts who have put everything they know into the product, ready to respond to your ‘how’ of launching & developing a reader revenue strategy. | @PooolTech

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