NORTHAMPTON — Next month, several news outlets, including the Daily Hampshire Gazette, will turn their focus to a topic some say is not getting the media attention it deserves: climate change.
In an effort called Covering Climate Now, more than 150 newspapers, radio stations, magazines and TV news programs around the country and the world will publish a week of climate coverage, Sept. 16-23, leading up to the United Nations’ Climate Action Summit in New York on Sept. 23. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has asked leaders to come to the summit with plans on how to get to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The Nation and the Columbia Journalism Review co-founded the initiative in partnership with The Guardian, a British daily newspaper. U.S. outlets participating include national, regional and local publications and stations such as The Philadelphia Inquirer, CBS News, The Texas Observer and The Shoestring, a western Massachusetts independent online magazine. Recently, the Gazette signed on to the pledge to bring awareness to the issue of climate change.
The lack of reporting is a problem that needs to be addressed, say the organizers of Covering Climate Now.
For example, ABC World News Tonight spent more time covering the birth of Archie, the royal baby born to Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan Markle, in his first week of life than it did to covering climate change in all of 2018, according to an analysis by Media Matters, a progressive nonprofit that monitors news for “conservative misinformation.”
The initiative aims to increase climate coverage.
“We basically see ourselves as convening and driving and influencing a conversation among our fellow journalists about how our profession can do justice to the biggest story of our time,” Mark Hertsgaard, an environment correspondent for The Nation, told the Gazette.
The 150-plus outlets participating have a combined audience of more than 100 million people, according to Hertsgaard.
In an article published in The Nation and Columbia Journalism Review, Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope, editor-in-chief and publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review, wrote that Covering Climate Now’s goal for publications was, “To make it clear to their audiences that climate change is not just one more story but the overriding story of our time.
“The point is to give the climate story the attention and prominence that scientists have long said it demands so that the public and policy-makers can make wise choices,” Hertsgaard and Pope continued, echoing a sentiment that journalist Bill Moyers shared at the launch: “Can we, in other words, tell the story so people get it?”
In the Valley, that’s precisely what many climate activists have been trying to do. In the past year, students walked out of class for an international climate strike, and protesters, many of them young, rallied on the steps of U.S. Rep. Richard Neal’s Springfield office, asking him to support the Green New Deal. The Gazette has covered many of these actions and events and will continue to do so.
During the week of Covering Climate Now, The Guardian and The Nation will be allowing participating publications to republish some of their articles. The choice of what stories to pursue and publish is entirely up to each publication participating in the Covering Climate Now initiative, and the Gazette may share some of our pieces with other outlets as well.
So what stories do you want to see us cover next month? We want to hear from you — about the local people who are taking action to reduce emissions, your concerns about the local environment, and the questions you have about how climate change will affect western Massachusetts. Email suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.