LOS ANGELES, Dec. 11, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Journalists looking at climate change through an equity lens are producing some of the most compelling stories about the biggest challenge facing the Earth — but it’s not always easy. Journalists shared that consensus and swapped stories and tips during a webinar discussing issues raised in The Solutions Project’s new publication, Covering Climate Equitably: A Guide for Journalists.
“As we head into a new administration, we have a new opportunity to talk about how we cover climate change, and how we can do that equitably,” said Errin Haines, co-founder of The 19th and an MSNBC contributor, who moderated the webinar’s panel discussion.
Covering Climate Equitably contains information, practical tips and case studies for journalists who want to produce climate and clean energy stories that center the views, experiences, and leadership of people of color and low-income communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis. These communities — which disproportionately face climate impacts such as rising sea levels, flooding, drought, unhealthy air and contaminated water — are organizing and working to implement solutions and build a healthier, more sustainable future for themselves and their children.
“We don’t always hear about the solutions or the work that’s going on to try to make it better, and that’s really important for people to hear,” said freelance journalist Katie Pyzyk. Her story “Chicago’s Blacks in Green Promotes Energy Efficiency in ‘Looked Over’ Areas,” written for Energy News Network, is featured as a case study in Covering Climate Equitably.
“It’s not like underrepresented communities are just sitting back and letting things happen to them. We need to hear about the work that’s going on there.”
For reporters who are not part of those communities, panelists agreed that it’s important to take the time to build trust.
“Especially as a white journalist approaching Black communities, that’s something you have to think about all the time,” said freelance journalist Molly Taft, whose story “The History of Earth Day,” written for Teen Vogue, is featured as a case study in Covering Climate Equitably. “That’s paid off for me. I’ve gotten recommendations from people I’ve interviewed to go reach out to other folks, because they know that I’m being careful and I’m handling the material in a way that lets their voice shine through,” Taft said.
The journalists on the panel said that taking the time to build relationships and report these stories is worth it — and that more and more, equity issues are baked into the climate change beat.
“It’s in some ways very difficult, if you’re doing a good job covering these issues, to not include equity, because it’s part of the story,” said Justin Worland, senior correspondent at TIME. As an example, he cited a climate-change cover story he wrote called “2020 Is Our Last, Best Chance to Save the Planet.”
“It was not about equity per se, but equity was embedded in the article because it’s inherently embedded in the story,” Worland said.
There’s also a selfish reason why people who are not on the frontlines of the climate crisis should pay attention, Worland said.
“Both globally and in the U.S., it’s important to look to communities that are the worst affected and to the communities that are affected first, because it gives an indication of where everything is heading,” Worland said. “A community on the frontlines in Fiji is going through something that people in the U.S. will go through in a matter of time.”
The journalists said that telling stories from the perspective of the people of a community helps draw readers into stories about climate change. It’s a theme the webinar’s host — Gloria Walton, CEO of The Solutions Project — returned to at the program’s close.
“When you put people at the center of this conversation, that’s how it translates to our living rooms, and to our lives,” Walton said.
Attendees were also provided with an overview of the guide and its methodology by its co-authors, Conspire for Good and Provoc, who developed it with The Solutions Project. It was written with input from journalists and professional journalism organizations, and in partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network. Covering Climate Equitably: A Guide for Journalists is available for download at The Solutions Project’s website.
About The Solutions Project
The Solutions Project is a national nonprofit organization that promotes climate justice through grantmaking and amplifying the stories of frontline community leaders in the media. The organization seeks to accelerate the transition to 100% clean energy and equitable access to healthy air, water, and soils by supporting climate justice organizations, especially those led by women of color.
Media contact: Carina Daniels
SOURCE The Solutions Project