The climate crisis is one of the biggest challenges facing journalism. It has the potential to be a story that behaves exactly like the internet has done: it starts as a niche story with niche reporters, and ends up as something that impacts everything we report on, and regularly makes the front page.
It took us far too long to adapt to digital to being an integral part of every beat. We can’t afford to make similar mistakes with the climate crisis because the stakes are so much higher.
And so, it's fantastic news that today the Reuters Institute is launching the Oxford Climate Journalism Network, to help develop our coverage of this emerging crisis. Funded to the tune of £477,170 via a grant from the European Climate Foundation, the network will provide members with access to subject-matter experts, professional forums, and original research to support and inform their reporting.
Leading the discussion on Climate Crisis journalism
As their press release puts it:
The focus of the network is not on individual pieces of reporting, but on working with hundreds of journalists and editors from all over the world to help them rethink and develop how journalism and the news media approach one of the defining issues of our time. It is a global network because the issue is global and because journalists everywhere can learn from one another, but it will also help participants think through the specific national and local dimensions of a crisis that affects all of us, but in very different ways.
The project has two prominent co-founders:
- The Reuters Institute’s Deputy Director Meera Selva
- Visiting Fellow and Advisory Board Member Wolfgang Blau, who has been actively working on journalistic approaches to climate change
It’s not often I take the time to write a post here based on a press release, and little else. But I think this is an incredibly important initiative that has the potential to create a globally effective boost to the sophistication and breadth of our climate reporting, looking at how it impacts all areas of society.
The accelerating climate crisis poses questions to all verticals of a news organisation, whether that is in their science, politics, business, culture, health, lifestyle, technology or sports journalism.
And that’s the core point: this can’t be a niche story any more. It needs to be a factor inherent in the majority of our reporting.
The structure of the Oxford Climate Journalism Network
To give you a sense of how broadly this is being targeted, they are planning four core elements to the network:
- Online courses for practising journalists that, over 6 months, will boost their contacts, networks, and understanding of the crisis.
- Leadership programmes for senior editors and newsroom managers looking to make to climate crisis reporting central to their publication.
- Journalist Fellowships for mid-career journalists to join the institute for specific research projects into the intersection of journalism and environmental factors.
- Original academic research, exploring how people find, share and consume news about the climate crisis.
Joining the Network
Applications to join the Network are open to working journalists, both in-house and freelance.