How can scientists and journalists work together? International speakers share insights during Climate Media Labs’ session on co-production and climate reporting

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How can scientists and journalists work together? International speakers share insights during Climate Media Labs’ session on co-production and climate reporting

International speakers during the Co-production and International Climate Reporting session of the Climate Media Labs for the Balangay Media Project Umalohokan fellows last September 9, 2021 shared insights on climate coverage overseas and balancing scientific and journalistic integrity. 

Mr. John Upton, partnerships journalism editor of Climate Central, discussed the organization’s partnership model for scientists and journalists working together followed by a panel discussion on coverage of climate abroad featuring Mr. Chris Wright, founder and managing director of Climate Tracker, and Ms. Gillian Parker, assistant editor of Eco-Business. The panel was moderated by Ms. Ping Manongdo, Southeast Asia partnerships manager & Philippines country manager of Eco-Business.

A component of the Balangay Media Project which the Center launched in July this year, the Labs were organized to build the capacity of teams of communicators under the Umalohokan Fellowship on science-based storytelling.

Collaboration between storytellers and scientists is imperative in weaving engaging stories, Mr. Upton explained, but this will not happen if they work in silos. “Journalists need to do a better job of building relationships with scientists as sources. It’s also incumbent on scientists to build relationships with journalists”, he said. 

Mr. Upton added that having familiarity with the climate issue is important, as it cuts across sectors, and is thus an issue that has relevance across the beats covered by journalists. “Everybody is a climate reporter now,” he explained. “Almost always, the person covering the climate has another beat. It’s much more helpful to think of climate as something that every beat needs to have some familiarity with.”

During the panel discussion on international climate reporting, Mr. Wright and Ms. Parker surfaced insights on story angles that are unique to or urgent for the Philippines and highlighted the importance of connecting to communities.

For Mr. Wright, adaptation and mitigation efforts at the barangay level deserve attention. “There is a big focus on what the national government and the international community is doing but not enough to celebrate what small communities are able to achieve,” he said.

Ms. Parker shared that it is important to look at the commitments and the pledges being made by corporations and how these are actually going to be delivered. She added, “It’s imperative for journalists to get into the communities to record those stories and to really drill down deep into what’s going on.”

Speaking on achieving impact, Mr. Wright encouraged the fellows to just keep writing. “The number one way you can have an impact as a climate reporter is consistency. Keep writing stories and keep on believing that your job is important because it is. If you keep writing stories over a 10-year period you will find that over time, there have been moments where your stories have had an impact”

Climate Tracker, together with TheNerve, are the Center’s implementing partners for the Climate Media Labs, in collaboration with EB Impact, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, Pumapodcast, Association of Young Environmental Journalists, and Climate Central

The Balangay Media Project was launched by the Center to engage passionate communicators to surface climate narratives and inspire action. Ten teams composed of representatives from media, academe, non-profit, and youth sectors were selected to move onto the Umalohokan Fellowship to the labs.

To learn more about Climate Tracker and its programs supporting climate journalism, visit their website.

Visit Eco-Business’ website to access its multimedia content on business and policy developments with a sustainability and ESG-focused lens.