Climate Progress blog post on the Journalism of Climate Change

Signs of water shortage in Northern China 25 years agoI thought I might post here a contribution I made this week to Climate Progress, a site I read daily and consider the best current blog on the science and politics of Climate Change.

The post was  in response to some (partly but not entirely justified) sharp criticism of a BBC piece by my old World Service colleague Richard Black on Artic Sea Ice melt.

The discussion at the bottom of the Climate Progress post is well worth reading, and if you get far enough down, you’ll find some further thoughts and responses from me.

(Picture on the top right, to liven up the text, is of boats stranded by the retreating Miyun reservoir in catastrophically, soon, water-stressed Northern China just north of Beijing. And this, with my family atop, was already some 25 years ago.)

As a former BBC foreign correspondent (Moscow, Berlin, Vienna, Beijing) during the Cold War, and former World Service editor now struggling with the monumental failure of contemporary journalism on climate change (Nicholas Stern’s 2007 comments about the market are just as relevant for the news media), I have to agree with recent commentators on Climate Progress who see the roots of this failure more in newsroom culture and subtle peer expectation than in a direct and explicit response to political or commercial demands (although those play their part, of course).

My former colleagues at the BBC, including Richard Black and others whom I know as good men and women all, remain trapped like most Western-style journalists in the old paradigm of news as event, not process, always needing to be shiny, new and different.

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