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Climate Change and the News: Impacts in the Great Lakes

Agenda | Speaker Bios | Resources List | Seminar for News Leaders
Climate Change and the News Initiative | Training | Participants

September 19, 2014

Great Lakes region journalists and speakers from climate change seminar in Chicago

Great Lakes region journalists and speakers from climate change seminar in Chicago

WBEZ Chicago
Navy Pier
848 N. Grand Avenue
Chicago, Illinois

Check-in: 8:30 – 9:00 a.m.
Program: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

For many, climate change seems not only complex, but distant and slow-moving. In the Great Lakes region, the effects of climate change have already begun to appear, affecting everything from municipal approaches to managing polluted stormwater runoff to commercially important fisheries and international water treaties. How can journalists meet the challenge of covering these stories with accurate and locally relevant stories?

Great Lakes 500X375



To help journalists covering the Great Lakes region deliver strong stories about climate change impacts that will resonate with their audiences, Metcalf Institute, in partnership with WBEZ Chicago, offered a climate change seminar on September 19 at the WBEZ newsroom on Chicago’s Navy Pier.

As part of Metcalf Institute’s Climate Change and the News series, the one-day seminar was designed to help reporters, producers, photojournalists, and editors better understand climate change science and the specific regional impacts affecting the Great Lakes; provide expert contacts and resources; and inspire solid story ideas to facilitate news coverage of regional climate change impacts.



Here’s how program participants described the seminar in an exit survey:

“The training gave me confidence to understand the consensus on climate change, to look for the big picture in my reporting.”

“This seminar provided both valuable knowledge and access to regional experts that are key to writing stories the public will care about.”

“This kind of non-partisan, fact-and-research-based presentation for journalists gives us the resources and understanding we need to help readers understand a vital and complex topic.”

The climate change seminar explored:

  • The physical basis for climate change science
  • Effects of climate change on water quality and supply in the Great Lakes region
  • Relationships between climate change and extreme weather events
  • Impacts of climate change upon Great Lake fisheries, forests, and agriculture
  • Public health challenges raised by climate change
  • How climate change is driving policy and economic decisions in the region

The seminar featured a wide variety of regional experts in these topics. Speakers included:


Professional journalists based in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, New York, and Ontario were encouraged to apply. The seminar was open to staff journalists and freelancers from all media, and was suitable for applicants from early-career general assignment reporters to veteran environmental reporters and editors. Selections were made to maximize diversity in professional experience, medium, audience, geography, race and ethnicity, and gender.

This program is underwritten by The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, with in-kind support from WBEZ-Chicago.