The environment is a hot button issue these days or it was until the economy tanked and many people in my parent’s generation lost their retirement plans, homes and economic stability. Suddenly climate change coverage seemed less important.
But should quality environmental coverage of climate change cease just because the economy took a turn for the worse?
Personally I think that we still need to cover climate change. For one thing climate change can affect economies (see Alaska). Furthermore, I think this is the perfect opportunity for digital journalists to serve as independent, curious, accurate and innovative transitional figures.
As a digital environmental journalist I think we can cover climate change differently than the media outlets while still adhering to the ideals of journalism. For one we can post relevant stories as they are breaking and update them though out the lifeline of the story from a more personal angle. For example this climate change blog covers the appearance of a flycatcher from a personal perspective while still giving readers access to the traditional story.
In the information age we are overwhelmed with information. As digital journalists we can offer the important nuggets to our audience and link to external sites where they can gather more information if they are still interested in the story. Here is an example of how a climate blog covered a protest and how the Times covered it. The blog post is short, funny and links like crazy while the Times piece is just a long string of text.
Instead of being proprietary about our material (as some media outlets are) we can share and interact with other bloggers, social networkers and twitter feeds to improve the content of our sites and drive up web traffic.
We can appeal to a devoted custom audience instead of a broad audience that may not be interested in the technical aspects of climate change. This means we have to come clean in order to adhere to the ideal of balanced reporting. We may not be neutral when blogging about climate change but we can clearly state where we stand on the issue and even link to sites that disagree with our own opinions and findings. Here is a site that presents climate change in an entirely different manner than my blog.
Climate change can be covered differently in the digital medium because we can update material in a more personally meaningful way, share and receive credible material thought he internet collective, and report detailed customized material for a specific audience.
These practices will let climate change bloggers reach out and interact with their audience while also following basic tenets of online journalism ethics. For more guidance on blogging ethics click here.