You might have been dismayed to note that on May 6, 2019, the day the royal baby was born in London, the United Nations released a summary of a major new report warning that human destruction of the natural world, including through climate change, now threatens up to a million species with extinction. CBS was the only national broadcast network that ran a segment on the biodiversity report that night.
Many felt that mainstream media had not done enough to cover climate change and a paper from the Columbia Journalism Review in 2019 addressed this issue brilliantly and in-depth.
Subsequently they and The Nation, in partnership with The Guardian, created the Covering Climate Now project to encourage media to focus on climate change coverage between September 16-23, 2019. By September 2020, CCN had 400 news outlets as partners with a combined audience approaching 2 billion people. One stunning non-profit, InsideClimate News, also partnered, in the spring of 2019, with fourteen newsrooms in nine mid-western states, publishing articles on three climate-related themes: agriculture, transportation and the electric grid. The results are fabulous.
Climate Desk is another multi-media journalistic collaboration dedicated to exploring the impact—human, environmental, economic, political—of a changing climate. The partners are: The Atlantic, Atlas Obscura, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, CityLab, Grist, The Guardian, High Country News, HuffPost, Medium, Mother Jones, National Observer, Newsweek, Reveal, Slate, The Weather Channel, Undark, Wired and Yale Envirnoment 360 .
TIME distinguished themselves in 2019 as well, selecting Greta Thunberg as the 2019 Person of the Year, and later published Bill McKibben in a “double” issue titled 2050: How Earth Survived on September 23, 2019.
One of the key newspapers on our list is The New York Times, which published nearly 800 articles about climate change in 2018. At the end of 2019, The Times made available a stunning compilation of their best climate change stories from that year.
As national print media evolved into digital, video, and audible delivery of news, some other remarkable results have emerged such as this multi-media series at The Washington Post in 2019, Gone in a Generation.
What about 2020? Wired Magazine, in the midst of the Coronavirus madness, marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day by devoting their entire April issue to climate change…as did National Geographic. CNN marked it as well, broadcasting what Mark Hertsgaard called, one of the “very best pieces of climate journalism ever run by a mainstream US news organization”: The Road to Change: America’s Climate Crisis, with Bill Weir.
On July 9, 2020, Time ran another cover story exploring how the coronavirus pandemic would affect our ability to focus on climate change in Justin Worland’s stunning piece, One Last Chance, The Defining Year for the Planet.
The New Yorker chose October to publish The Fragile Earth edited by David Remmick, an anthology of their amazing reporting on climate change over the past three decades — from Bill McKibben, writing one year after James Hansen first warned a Senate committee about climate change in 1988, to Pulitizer Prize winners Elizabeth Kolbert, Kathryn Schulz, and essays by Jonathan Franzen, Ian Frazier, and more.
In late December, as 2020 came to a close, The New York Times posted this stunning interactive roundup from their climate desk.
What’s new in 2021? Who can deny the power of Bill McKibben in The New Yorker on 1/22/2021 as he wrote “To Counter Climate Change, We Need to Stop Burning Things.”