Climate change has been front and centre this week as more than 250 media outlets committed to emphasising coverage as part of a global project called Covering Climate Now.
Run as a joint initiative by The Nation and Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), the project is deliberately timed to focus attention on the upcoming United Nations Climate Summit on September 23 (local time).
“The media’s minimisation of the looming disaster is one of our great journalistic failures,” wrote The Nation‘s Mark Hertgaard and CJR editor Kyle Pope.
“It is heartening, then, to report that the press may at last be waking up to the defining story of our time.”
In New Zealand, outlets included 1 News, RNZ, Newshub, the NZ Herald, Newsroom, The Spinoff, Stuff and The Conservation – producing original news stories, interactive tools, podcasts, features, columns, and even pick-a-path style cartoons on the climate crisis.
From the outset, media commentators were clear the intention was not to convey a sense of doom.
The Spinoff’s Alex Braae wrote: “Yes, these are enormous problems, with difficult solutions. But to wallow in the idea that there’s no hope, or that we may as well just give up, would be pathetic and stupid. We do still have time, and we owe it to future generations to work hard to give them a world they can inherit.”
Newsroom launched a new section, GreenRoom, to house its climate week coverage and host future content on climate change risks and policies, conservation, biosecurity, water quality and sea level rise.
The NZ Herald launched a three-part podcast series, Fighting for our Future, in which guests discuss the basics of climate change, the rise of the climate-conscious youth, and the simple, practical changes that can be made in everyday life to help save the planet and our existence.
NZ Herald data editor Chris Knox put together a daily quiz for people to test their knowledge on things like sources of carbon and greenhouse gases.
And Stuff, which has been running a long-term climate change project since late last year, doubled down on content, launching a new column series, Climate Lessons, in which scientists explain what their research has taught them about climate change.
As the week kicked off, Stuff editor-in-chief Patrick Crewdson wrote people could think of the project as atonement.
“Collectively – and internationally – we as the media have for years allowed our taste for conflict to create the false impression that climate science was uncertain and a fit topic for debate. But as respectable media outlets increasingly dispense with any last remnants of climate science denialism, we’re getting better at reporting this epoch-defining story accurately and constructively.”
Here’s some of our highlights from the week:
Newsroom: Ups and downs of rising seas in a shaky nation
RNZ: How school children are coping with ‘eco-anxiety’ as they worry about climate change
Stuff: New Zealand in 2050: The scenario if emissions are curbed and The scenario for New Zealand if temperatures keep rising
NZ Herald: Take our climate change test: How much do you know?
The Spinoff: I stand with Greta, and with the strikers: James Shaw’s letter to NZ school students
The Spinoff: Don’t give up: An economist explains why individual climate actions still matter
Newsroom: Drilling into the past to predict the future
Stuff: New Zealand’s climate change power list
TVNZ: Concerns over effect warming seas will have on paua industry
Stuff: Root & Branch
Newsroom: Powers want Pacific rewards without responsibility
The Nation: What Would Real Commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement Look Like?
Rolling Stone: How Big Agriculture Is Preventing Farmers From Combating the Climate Crisis
The Guardian: The silenced: meet the climate whistleblowers muzzled by Trump
The Guardian: Naomi Klein: ‘We are seeing the beginnings of the era of climate barbarism’