Climate Change and the News: A Seminar for News Leaders
What story is both global and local, with heart-tugging anecdotes, hard data, and many opportunities for graphics to give readers multiple story entry points? It’s a hit on social media and one of the topics younger, hard-to-get news audiences really care about. Climate Change.
Metcalf Institute, in partnership with the American Society of News Editors (ASNE), and the Associated Press Media Editors (APME), held a Climate Change and the News seminar on September 18 as a special addition to the first-ever joint convention of the American Society of News Editors and Associated Press Media Editors in Chicago.
The Seminar for News Leaders featured experts in science, policy, defense, and business to explore the latest decisions driving local, state, regional, and national responses to climate change and the relevance for news audiences. The seminar provided essential information and sources for news editors looking for fresh hooks for their reporters, as well as the ability to cut through the hype to find the compelling and under-reported stories about climate change.
Attended by editors representing large and small newsrooms across the nation, the seminar sought to help editors, who are often overwhelmed with information about climate change, discern fact from hype. The seminar identified big stories of the future and provided the information news audiences need to know about the regional and national policy implications of climate change.
Participants’ comments from an an exit survey demonstrate the value of these seminars:
“This was so well done. The format was digestible, the speakers informative and even entertaining, and each session built on the previous one. So worth it.”
“As editors, we are bombarded by special interests and often find ourselves generalists in many topics. On something as important as climate change, it’s really empowering to get this in-depth primer to help guide our choices and editing.”
“…all that I’ve learned certainly will inform my editing on a daily basis as I join my reporters in routine dives into subjects related to oil and gas drilling, fracking and its consequences, coal mining, regulation of power plants, flooding and flood mitigation, water quality and availability, and the impacts of climate change on farming.”
Session 1: What Do News Audiences Need to Know About Climate Change?
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Climate change will affect people from coast to coast, whether by straining already limited drinking water supplies, limiting agricultural production, increasing forests’ susceptibility to disease, or driving greater devastation from coastal storms. This session, moderated by the Chicago Tribune’s award-winning environment reporter, Michael Hawthorne, featured policy and science experts as well as representatives of affected industries to summarize the ways that climate change relates to news coverage of the economy, local governments, healthcare, and a variety of other topics relevant to news audiences.
- Donald Wuebbles, professor of atmospheric science, University of Illinois, and lead author of National Climate Assessment
- Jerry Hatfield, director of USDA National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment
- Tracey Holloway, professor of environmental studies, Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE), University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Frank Szollosi, manager of Great Lakes regional outreach, National Wildlife Federation
- Lt. Gen. John Castellaw, USMC (ret.), Crockett Policy Institute, The Center for Climate & Security
- Andrew Logan, director of Ceres’ Oil & Gas and Insurance Programs
Networking Lunch Break
12:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Seminar attendees will have lunch on their own.
Session 2: Bringing it Home: How Communities are Tackling Climate Change
1:30 p.m. – 4:30 pm.
This session featured researchers, businesses, communities, and officials who are developing innovative approaches toward managing the effects of climate change across the U.S. Not just a recitation of the problems, this session identified actions or tools that can empower news audiences, rather than simply overwhelming them with concerns.
- Chad Berginnis, executive director of Association of State Floodplain Managers
- Michael Boudrias, Climate Education Partners, University of San Diego
- Projjal Dutta, director of sustainability for the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority
- Steve Adams, Institute for Sustainable Communities
- Karen Weigert, chief sustainability officer for City of Chicago
The Climate Change and the News seminar is supported by a grant from the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment with in-kind support from the American Society of News Editors.