Climate Change and the Media: Tell it as a story
Posted on 18th May 2011
Elizabeth Smith, Chair, Commonwealth Media Group and Consultant, Transforming Broadcasting
Personalising Climate Change is the way to help people understand it. This was one of the messages to come out of the High Level Meeting on Climate Change and the Media at the 4th UN Conference on Least Developed Countries, held in Istanbul on 12 May 2011, and supported by South-South News.
Compared with the coverage of HIV/AIDS, there has been less imaginative treatment and the level of understanding in the developing world about Climate Change is far from widespread.
Media houses in the developing world cannot generally afford to have specialist reporters, and understanding the science of Climate Change is low both among the media and among the public. So showing coverage of the changes makes most impact if it can be told as a personal story.
This is expensive, however. A reporter needs both to have the skills to make the intellectual link between floods and drought and a changing climate, and to travel to the scene to investigate it.
This is where efforts are now being called for to help the media, by convincing politicians, academics and the media of the need for action, and then by helping in practical ways, such as training and access to scientific information.
Various ideas came out of the discussions in Istanbul, for example:
- Competitions to reward coverage that makes an impact
- Training journalists in the science of Climate Change, ideally at local universities
- Accessing funds already devoted to Public Awareness in National Plans should be accessed to cover essential costs
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