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Header from Covering Climate Now emailCCNow

Covering Climate Now launches training for local TV reporters

An organization dedicated to encouraging and molding journalism on climate change has opened a training program for TV reporters, managers and newsrooms.

Covering Climate Now (CCNow), an organization started by Columbia University, The Guardian, and The Nation, is now offering free, customized training through The Climate Station

The Climate Station training program, designed by 'journalists for journalists,' will span four sessions over eight weeks, followed by six months of ongoing support and feedback. It will be led by CCNow’s global team, which already works with network-owned television stations across the US. Participants will receive a certificate of completion.

The four sessions, customized for local TV, are described by CCNow this way:

  • Local Climate Stories That Matter highlights the basics of climate science, the importance of climate change coverage, including solutions and demonstrates its appeal to local TV audiences.

  • Ten Climate Myths, Debunked identifies common misconceptions about climate science and provides guidance on how to react when confronted with 'misinformation' or 'disinformation,' empowering viewers to make informed decisions.

  • Climate Change & the 2024 Election explores the climate angles to political stories. It guides reporters on the key climate-related questions to ask in their local market, connecting politics with the concerns of local audiences.

  • Climate Stories for Every Beat exemplifies how climate change impacts people’s lives, from weather and health to jobs, business, and politics, and offers tips to help journalists link extreme weather events with climate change.

Unfortunately for CCNow, their article on teaching journalists how to do their craft showed sloppy editing, as a paragraph repeated itself.

The organization, which now claims 600 journalists and media outlets with a combined audience of more than two billion people, claims they are meeting public demand.

A new study by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication says 56% of Americans are “concerned” or “alarmed” about climate change. CCNow calls the poll “essential reading for US journalists in particular in an election year.”

Somehow Anthony Leiserowitz, the director of the Yale program, told CCNow the percentage is “actually much higher,” on the assumption people unconcerned about climate change still “want to learn more about the causes, consequences and solutions to climate change.”

“Only the 11% of the public that still denies climate change doesn’t want more information,” CCNow inferred.

Americans don’t get it, CCNow complains.

“Separate surveys show that many Americans don’t recognize that burning oil, gas, and coal is the main cause of climate change, underscoring the importance of making that connection in news coverage,” the organization said.

Yale has been polling on the matter since its 2009 Six Americas study which identified six categories of thinking among the public: “alarmed,” “concerned,” “cautious,” “disengaged,” “doubtful,” and “dismissive.” Since 2013, the percentage of “alarmed” Americans has more than doubled, while the percentage who are either “alarmed” or “concerned” jumped from 40% to today’s 56%. The “dismissive”, which CCNow calls “deniers” has remained stable at 11%.

Ironically, the CCNow article explains that journalists should be tempered in the significance they attach to polls. Because they are only snapshots, “reporters and pundits [should be] much more careful about drawing conclusions about what today’s polls mean about elections that are, in the US, still 11 months away.”

Leiserowitz said the alarmed prioritize climate change as a voting issue, and the concerned are less likely to have climate change among their top ballot concerns.

“The 2024 elections — not only in the US but many other climate-critical countries, including India, Pakistan, Indonesia, across the European Union, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Mexico — will be a top priority for Covering Climate Now this year,” CCNow explains.

“Stay tuned for further information about how you and your newsroom can be involved — and don’t hesitate to email us your own ideas.”

In a postscript, CCNow pointed to a “noteworthy” story from Grist: 24 Predictions for 2024. It claimed that 2023 was the hottest year in the past 125,000.

The article celebrated the American Climate Corps, a Biden-administration funded group of 20,000 18-to-26-year-olds. The group, which will be paid, will install solar projects, mitigate wildfire risk, and make homes more energy-efficient. Grist said the initiative was viewed by the right as a government make-work waste of funds, while the left complains about low wages are for the corps.

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