No matter your favorite news source, you’ve probably been seeing more stories on climate change lately. A new report by the Media and Climate Change Observatory at the University of Colorado Boulder, which monitors newspaper, radio, and TV reporting in 59 countries, finds that 2021 saw the highest amount of coverage since the observatory started tracking coverage 18 years ago. Since 2015, climate coverage has increased by 90 percent.
Numerous mainstream news outlets are expanding their coverage and devoting more resources to climate reporting as the urgency of the climate crisis — and public interest in the story — grows. These include ABC News, AP, The Boston Globe, CNN, and The Weather Channel.
The trend is global. Wolfgang Blau, co-founder of the Oxford Climate Journalism Network at the Reuters Institute, recently interviewed roughly 80 newsrooms across the world about their goals for climate reporting. Four out of five said they plan to grow their climate coverage within the next year.
Covering Climate Now is responding to this expansion of climate coverage in a number of ways, including our annual journalism awards. On Tuesday, we announced a call for entries for this year’s awards, with a number of new categories added to reflect the growth in climate reporting. We look forward to reading submissions from across beats and countries around the world.
Some of the most welcome increase in coverage is coming from TV weather reporters, as Marc Tracy recently wrote in The New York Times. Al Roker of NBC News, Ginger Zee of ABC News, Jeff Berardelli of WFLA in Tampa, Florida, and their counterparts now have “a more visceral presence in viewers’ lives” as they increasingly report on the connection between man-made climate change and specific weather events. For example, last year NBC News’ climate unit offered more than 50 segments related to climate change and not tied to weather forecasts, compared with about 20 the year before.
News organizations aren’t only expanding the amount of coverage, they’re reaching audiences in new ways. As newsletters have regained popularity, more are focusing on climate, such as the Los Angeles Times’ Boiling Point, The Washington Post’s The Climate 202 newsletter, and The Independent’s Climate News in the UK. And they’re experimenting with new platforms, with the San Francisco Bay Area’s KQED public radio station, for example, taking to TikTok to share a 14-year-olds climate poem on environmental racism in her community.
There’s still more work to do, as Blau pointed out in a recent talk. “What we need is an all vertical approach to this story, because no vertical is exempt from the impact of climate change and from being required to engage with mitigation and adaptation to climate change.” We could not agree more. But these are encouraging advances, and we urge our colleagues throughout the news business to keep going!