COVERING CLIMATE NOW: “Can we tell the story so people get it,” stated Bill Moyers, legendary journalist and political commentator, at launch of major international media initiative

Note to Reader:

Covering Climate Now, is a project aimed at breaking the climate silence that has long prevailed within too much of the news media. Co-founded by The Nation and Columbia Journalism Review, in partnership with The Guardian, Covering Climate Now aims to convene and inform a conversation among journalists about how all news outlets—big and small, digital and print, TV and radio, US-based and abroad—can do justice to the defining story of our time.

The project was launched on April 30, 2019 with a conference at the Columbia Journalism School—a working forum where journalists gathered to start charting a new course. 

Canada’s Maclean’s magazine is among an initial list of 60 news outlets announced on July 26, 2019 as participants in Covering Climate Now. Maclean’s recently published a special issue focused on the topic. Their participation in Covering Climate Now is a recognition that this is vitally important issue to Canadians and they have a responsibility to contribute to the national conversation.

The point of Covering Climate Now is to give the climate story the attention and prominence that scientists have long said it demands so that the public and policymakers can make wise choices.

A Commitment to Covering Climate Change

“THE MEDIA ARE COMPLACENT while the world burns.” That’s the headline on an article, by Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope, co-published in April 2019 by the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), The Nation, and The Guardian.

“At a time when civilization is accelerating toward disaster, climate silence continues to reign across the bulk of the US news media,” Hertsgaard and Pope write. “Especially on television, where most Americans still get their news, the brutal demands of ratings and money work against adequate coverage of the biggest story of our time.”

When climate change has been covered, it’s often been covered poorly: false “debates” between real experts and denialist cranks; the failure to link unfolding disasters to climate change; framing policy solutions in terms of the political horse race; the list goes on.

How can we do better? Hertsgaard, environment correspondent at The Nation, and Pope, editor and publisher at CJR, convened a town hall at Columbia Journalism School to address that question. Speakers including Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, and Bill Moyers debated a range of related problems.

All that’s required, say Hertsgaard and Pope, is for each outlet to make a good-faith effort to increase the amount and the visibility of its climate coverage—to make it clear to their audiences that climate change is not just one more story but the overriding story of our time.

CJR Covering Climate Change from Columbia University News on Vimeo.