Feb 1 2010

Environmental Journalism in the Greenhouse Era

Looking for climate news beyond corporate media

The need for informed and nuanced environmental reporting has never been greater: The scientific evidence of global warming demands urgent action, climate change already underway affects every corner of society, and climate issues unavoidably arise in economic and energy debates. That a recent poll showed declining concern about the planet’s state (Pew, 10/22/09) only accentuates the need for coverage that explains what’s at stake. But the ongoing migration of audiences and advertisers to the Internet, heightened by the current recession, threatens the very existence of conventional news media from which we seek information about this complex issue. Environmental journalism in […]

Feb 1 2010

Sidelining Cap and Trade’s Green Critics

As with healthcare, right-wing complaints framed the debate

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/EnvironmentBlog

The sweeping bill to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions that moved through Congress over the last year received relatively scant media attention, taking a distant back seat to the healthcare reform bill and its attendant public uproar. And, much like the healthcare debate (Extra!, 10/09), coverage of climate-change legislation ended up obscuring the issues as much as it explained them, viewing a Democratic compromise bill through the lens of right-wing and corporate criticism, while marginalizing progressive critics who said the legislation was insufficient to the task at hand. The tone of coverage was set in February, when President Barack Obama issued preliminary […]

Feb 1 2010

NYT Cools on Global Warming Realities

Andrew Revkin reports on imaginary temperature ‘plateau’

photo credit: NASA

When Fox News host Glenn Beck or conservative columnist George Will talk about how global warming “ended” sometime in the last 10 years, it’s worrying but not altogether surprising. But what about when a New York Times science writer spins a similar tale in a news story? The Times’ former climate change reporter, Andrew Revkin, wrote a piece published online on September 21, 2009 (it appeared in the print edition two days later) that seemed designed to bolster one of the key messages from the climate deniers. It told of the “intricate challenge” facing world leaders seeking to make progress […]

Feb 1 2010

Newsweek Greenwashes the Oil Lobby for Real

Boosting fossil-fuel profits as a sign of eco-friendliness

Photo Credit: The Daily Beast

Green energy advocates, environmentalists and anyone concerned with climate change can breathe a deep sigh of relief—the battle against the oil barons has been won. At least, that’s what Newsweek would have its readers believe. Under the provocative headline “Big Oil Goes Green for Real” (Newsweek.com, 9/19/09), Newsweek International senior editor Rana Foroohar argued that the world’s biggest oil producers have had a change of heart: Companies are actually beginning to think about alternatives not just as a tool for greenwashing (throw up a few solar panels here, sponsor a conference on wind energy there) but as real businesses that […]

Feb 1 2010

U.S. Climate Coverage in the ’00s

Tracking global warming’s media profile

As we depart from the ’00s and enter a new decade, the multi-faceted issue of climate change remains a high-stakes, highly contentious and high-profile challenge for understanding and engagement. Mass media are vitally important to public understanding of climate change, as they translate what can often be alienating, jargon-laden, formal climate science and policy; they powerfully shape and negotiate meaning, influencing how citizens make sense of and value the world. Therefore, intensity of media attention has a strong bearing on considerations for various policy actions as well as the spectrum of possibility for public engagement. From 2000 through 2009, coverage […]

Feb 1 2010

‘Climategate’ Overshadows Copenhagen

Media regress to the bad old days of false balance

Photo Credit: treehugger.com

With the Kyoto Protocol expiring in 2012, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP15) was intended to make new international commitments to reduce emissions and fight the effects of global warming. But instead of discussing measures, deadlines and the urgency of international action, the overriding media story going into Copenhagen was whether scientists have been making up the whole “global warming” thing all along. Just a few weeks before the conference’s December 7 opening, hackers made public a trove of private emails and documents stolen from the Climate Research Unit at Britain’s University of East Anglia; they had […]

Feb 1 2010


Nostalgia for Reaganesque Lies Time columnist Joe Klein (12/3/09) was not altogether impressed by Obama’s decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan (an “iffy proposition,” as Klein put it). But Klein’s main gripe was that Obama should have justified the war differently: “Once you have made the decision to go, or to redouble your efforts, you must lead the charge—passionately and, yes, with a touch of anger.” Then he described the better way: “Ronald Reagan would have done it differently. He would have told a story. It might not have been a true story, but it would have had […]