Journalism is a very public profession. Journalists keep watch on government officials, shining a light on their missteps and poor decisions. In return, the work of journalists is subject to constant public criticism, as it should be. For most journalists who have reported about environmental issues over the past two decades, no topic of coverage has prompted more critical comments and complaints than climate change.
Many environmental journalists find climate change to be the most important and yet the most difficult story on our beat. Why? Here are some links that may help us formulate a response to that question.
This story from the Washington Post quotes a professor who says climate change is the hot-button political issue of the moment, like partial birth abortion was a few years ago.
This Popular Science article chronicles attacks against climate scientists, showing that journalists aren’t the only ones who are criticized for what they say about this issue.
James Powell, a scientist appointed by both Reagan and Bush to the National Science Board and current president of the Physical Science Consortium, has done a meta-analysis of almost 14,000 peer-reviewed climate articles since 1991 and found that only 24 reject the idea of human-caused climate change.
About 70 percent of Americans seem to believe that the climate is changing, according to this article from Bloomberg News. But still there’s no agreement — at least in the U.S. — on how to address the issue.
That’s why some, like journalism critic Steve Outing, are urging journalists to adopt more advocacy-oriented reporting on this issue.
Bill McKibben is a prominent organizer on behalf of action against climate change. He started learning about the issue as a journalist and book author.
How do you think journalists could do a better job covering climate change?