With the US elections fewer than 100 days away, our latest “Talking Shop” brought together a group of stellar journalists to share best practices on how to make the climate story central to 2020 campaign coverage.
There’s a lot at stake. The upcoming elections will shape whether the world’s biggest economy will leave the Paris Agreement or work to meet its goal of keeping temperature rise “well below” 2 degrees Celsius.
Our panelists included:
- Al Ortiz, CBS News VP of News Standards and Practices
- Savannah Sellers, NBC News Correspondent and Host of “Stay Tuned” on Snapchat
- Jane Spencer, The Guardian US Deputy Editor
- Bill Weir, CNN Chief Climate Correspondent
- Justin Worland, TIME magazine Environment and Energy Correspondent
Mark Hertsgaard, CCNow’s Executive Director and the Environment Correspondent for The Nation, moderated. Below are a few lightly edited highlights from our panelists:
“It’s not our responsibility to tell people who to vote for, but it is important to lay out the consequences of what those decisions are, and that we can do very, very clearly. The way out of this pandemic is going to be led by science, not by denial of science and falling on irresponsible theories. The same thing is true of climate change.” – Al Ortiz
“Listen to your young people, in your audience and in your newsroom, because they see what’s coming. This isn’t necessarily an ideological issue, as much as it is generational. These young people, when you ask them, ‘Why are you voting for this candidate?’ Climate change’ is the first thing out of their mouth I’d say 90% of the time.” – Savannah Sellers
“One of the great tragedies of the climate crisis is that it’s been seen as a partisan issue as opposed to a scientific reality. And that has really polluted the US coverage of this issue. It’s beginning to correct, but we’ve had decades when we could have been doing more around the issue.” – Jane Spencer
“People consider climate like it’s one menu item when you go into vote, and I’m saying, ‘No, it’s the whole restaurant.’ Everything on that menu ties back to the health of a living planet. Foreign policy, economics, social justice, civil unrest, novel viruses — all of these things just get intensified in a warmer world.” – Bill Weir
“It’s hard to detach the future of our planet and our life on the planet from the decision that American voters will make in November. When reporting on climate change and acknowledging what its impacts are, you don’t have to give equal space to folks who are denying science. If you lay it out in the most accurate way, people can draw their own conclusions.” – Justin Worland
This Talking Shop is the first of many events we have planned as part of our new Climate Politics 2020 initiative focused on the US elections. Learn how you and your newsroom can participate and be sure to check out our new Climate Politics Reporting Guide with story ideas, reporting tips and recommended resources for covering the 2020 elections.