Adding climate to the journalistic environment

I am one of the first cohort of journalists in the Oxford Climate Journalism Network, run by Oxford University’s Reuters Institute. This involves taking part in a series of online seminars and discussions with journalists from around the world.

Our first seminar was by the Reuters Institute’s Wolfgang Blau, former chief operating officer of Condé Nast and co-founder of the network. (He has since delivered a public lecture covering the same ground, which you can read here.) Blau pointed out how badly climate change fits with journalistic (and perhaps human attention) values: it’s not new, it’s not local, it’s not simple, it’s not usually personal, it’s a long-term process rather than a specific event and it’s hard to get an exclusive out of it.

One answer may be through journalism that is not directly about climate change but that wouldn’t exist without it. I have written an article for Computer Weekly about the data and software behind wind power, a rapidly-growing industry, where I didn’t use the words ‘climate change’ although ‘net zero’ appears a couple of times. There didn’t seem to be any need – a fast-growing sector with really interesting technology works for Computer Weekly. But the reason wind power has grown rapidly is climate change, and the resulting energy policies of successive UK governments as well as customer demand for clean power.

Rather than setting up ring-fenced ‘climate’ journalism, it may make more sense that climate change becomes part of the journalistic environment, something that can be included in or influence any kind of story.

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