Day 29: Help Spread the News
Encourage news outlets to cover the climate crisis more
News shows and broadcast TV covered last year’s deadly heat waves and wildfires and hurricanes and floods. But they did a lousy job connecting these stories to the climate crisis.
The media watchdog Media Matters found that during the first 48-hours of last June’s deadly heat dome that descended over the typically moderate Pacific Northwest, smashing temperature records by up to 9°F (5°C ) in some areas,
morning and evening news shows on broadcast TV networks as well as all original programming on the major cable news networks aired 35 combined segments on the Pacific Northwest heat wave. Only eight of them, or 23%, mentioned climate.
And that actually marks a big improvement. During a 2018 summer heat wave, Media Matters found that only one 1 out of 127 segments on the extreme heat made the connection to climate change.
Less than a month after last summer’s heat dome, a different story grabbed headlines—Jeff Bezos’ brief trip to space in his Blue Origin rocket. Media Matters found that the NBC, ABC, and CBS morning shows on that one day spent nearly as much time covering the trip as they spent covering the climate crisis for all of 2020. And 2020 was a doozy. What more will it take?
As author and activist Bill McKibben explained in his newsletter earlier this month, journalists look for new, novel stories to cover and the climate crisis, while devastating, unfolds at a much slower pace than, say, this week’s stock market gyrations.
Journalism’s weakness on this score is one reason we need to keep building movements—they are able to interject drama and storylines into the mix, and hence give reporters another way to cover the ongoing drama. But we still need to come to grips with the essential problem: the biggest news story of all time doesn’t quite fit our working definition of news, and hence is going remarkably undercovered. The comet, even now, is crashing into us, but we’re not quite able to see it.
So what can we do?
Support reputable sources that have a climate beat
The Boston Globe announced last week that it would expand and rethink its coverage of climate change, “the most pressing issue of our time.” You can find the Globe’s article about that here but you’ll need to subscribe to read it.
When you subscribe to a news outlet with a climate beat, let them know you appreciate the coverage. Read and share articles on climate to help amplify them and to show that the public wants this type of coverage (which it does!).
At the same time, urge the Times to stop running ads from fossil fuel companies
I subscribe to the New York Times for its excellent coverage of the climate crisis—and Covid and politics and, well, everything. But it also accepts fossil fuel advertising, which legitimizes the very companies causing the destruction that the Times covers so well. You can sign End Climate Silence’s petition here urging the New York Times to stop running #AdsNotFit2Print. The Guardian stopped accepting fossil fuel advertising in 2020. It can be done.
End Climate Science is a volunteer organization that pushes the media to report on the climate crisis. If you know of a story that the media have failed to connect to the climate crisis, tweet @EndClimtSilence or send an email here.
On its website, End Climate Silence has also posted a list of contact information here for the prime-time network news shows (ABC, CBS, NBC). Post on their Facebook pages or Tweet or email them, asking them to connect the dots between extreme weather events and climate change in their broadcasts.
Tomorrow is the last day!