The Earth’s climate is changing and human action is the leading cause, according to 97% of peer-reviewed research papers. Yet this ‘climate change consensus’ is increasingly challenged by populist media and politicians, who distort research and cherry pick data.
Media may be part of the problem, but it also has a role to play in finding solutions. Through storytelling — as humans have done for thousands of years around campfires — journalists play a crucial role in getting people to care, connect and engage about issues of common concern.
The questions now include the following: what are the challenges to climate change reporting in today’s complex world, and how can some of these challenges be solved? Can we develop new ideas through a collaborative ‘ideation’ (a kind of focused brainstorm) not only among journalists, but also involving other parties with different expertise?
At the 2018 International Journalism Festival in Perugia, science communicators from UNU-MERIT and UNU-FLORES joined around 40 journalists, developers, designers, and others to discuss challenges facing climate change reporting, and ‘ideate’ possible solutions. Questions included:
- How might we tell the same story about the science of climate change, again and again using non-technical language, and yet keep people interested?
- How might we break down silos, and reach across political divides?
- How might we blend human stories with scientific data?
- How might we create a story package in an inclusive way?
- How might we ensure a real and prompt access to data in a comprehensive manner in a usable format for journalistic purposes?
- How might we build a collaborative ‘team’, including scientists, journalists, data experts that can work on climate change reporting in the long term?
The outcomes of the session were documented in ‘Collaborative Ideation: Climate Change Reporting – Challenges and Ideas for Solutions‘, a Google document that lists the challenges and solutions formulated by the group.
As a next step, the conveners are seeking input from a wider circle of interested parties: scientists, journalists, communicators, and others involved in climate change reporting are invited to share their insights in the ‘Open Call for Challenges: Climate Change Reporting‘.
This effort was convened by the Lookout Station, a science-media initiative of the European Forest Institute, and co-organised by Formicablu, the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), Code for Africa, the United Nations University, Public Media Alliance, Climate Tracker, Clean Energy Wire (CLEW), Outliers Collective, Backyard Media, and the European Forest Genetic Resources Programme.
The opinions expressed here are the author’s own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.