The American Meteorological Society (AMS) presents:
Media and Climate Change
Friday, September 17, 2010
9:30 AM to 11:00 AM
Room 2325 Rayburn House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Program Summary: Journalism is going through a period of rapid change. Newspapers are shrinking, broadcast news outlets are expanding and becoming more polarized, online sources have exploded, and major media outlets staff fewer and fewer science writers. These media changes create major challenges for how society understands and responds to complex issues like climate change. This briefing will look into the ongoing changes in the media and examine the implications for public understanding of (and potential policy responses to) climate change.
Tom Rosenstiel, Director, Project for Excellence in Journalism
Bud Ward, Freelance envrionmental journalist; Journalism educator; Founder and editor of The Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media
Paul Higgins, Associate Director, American Meteorological Society Policy Program
SUMMARY OF REMARKS
Speaker: Tom Rosenstiel
I will talk about how consumers (constituents) get news and then refer to how that is changing how news is produced and delivered.
1. Consumers get news throughout the day, not all at once, not from one news source, which has big implications. They get their news story by story, not relying on an agenda setting news organization. That means they are functioning more as their own editors. It also means, I suspect, that they are getting a somewhat narrower news agenda, digging deeper into a few topics but knowing less about many, and some of that digging more involves opinion news, blogs, etc.
2. People on the Hill seem obsessed by blogs and mischievous political advocates. Probably overly concerned with it. That will come up in the conversation.
3. Coverage of Washington has similarly narrowed as bureaus have shrunk and coverage of members of congress has vanished. They know this on the Hill but will want to talk about it.
4. The press is scrambling to deal with diminished resources and their changed role. They are in chaos. And the web and digital transmission is adding to the chaos. Reporters are evaluated on things like traffic to stories and topics and it is wreaking havoc on dc coverage.
Speaker: Bud Ward
What does the current and ongoing media/information “revolution” mean for those interested in climate change and climate science “literacy” and public understanding?
For practitioners of the science and policy related to climate change and “media” (that is, conveyors of news and information, both journalistically and otherwise), a whole new and challenging world:
Scientists increasingly will have to master some qualities, practices, characteristics and roles historically filled by the traditional news media, personified by the “science journalist”;
Some of those conveying the work of the scientific community will have to meet responsibilities as detached observers and interpreters, going well beyond those of “stenographers” to include verification and “objective” analysis. Fewer may be playing this role in the new media world; those doing so will have to try to responsibly offset the inevitable cacophony of unsubstantiated reportage and opining from the “blogosphere.”
Consumers of science news and information will have to be their own reporters, their own editors, in some cases even their own peer-reviewers, separating scientific wheat from quasi-scientific chaff. The “IReport” theme will apply to all of us. Are we ready?
A daunting challenge at a time of a veritable “perfect storm” of mass communications, public education, science literacy, and a changing climate. Are we up to it?
Tom Rosenstiel is an author, journalist, press critic and founder and director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ), a research organization that studies the news media and is part of the Pew Research Center in Waswhington, D.C. A journalist for more than 30 years, he worked as a media critic for the Los Angeles Times and chief congressional correspondent for Newsweek magazine and as co-founder and vice chairman of the Commitee of Concerned Journalists. Among his books, he is the co-author of the popular The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect." He appears often on radio, television and in print, and has written widely on politics and media.
Bud Ward, a freelance environmental journalist and journalism educator, is founder and editor of The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media (http://www.climatemediaforum.yale.edu ). Ward started his environmental journalism career in 1974 and served as Assistant Director of a Congressional Clean Air Act Study Commission before founding The Environmental Forum policy magazine in 1982.
In 1988, he established the nonprofit Environmental Health Center and founded Environment Writer, a monthly newsletter for journalists covering natural resources and environmental issues. A co-founder of the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ), he has written two books on environmental regulatory issues and has authored more than 1,000 bylined articles on environmental issues. He twice served as a frequent environmental analyst and commentator for National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and "Morning Edition." He also founded and managed the foundation –funded Central European Environmental Journalism Program. Ward is Advisory Editor for the Oxford University Second Edition of Encyclopedia of Climate and Weather (2007); and in 2007/2008 he was an adviser for the United Nations Development Program's Human Development Report, Climate Change and Human Development. Ward since its founding has been contest administrator for the Metcalf Institute’s Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment, at $75,000 the richest prize in journalism. George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communications in 2009 named Ward “Climate Change Communicator of the Year.”
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