Covid-19 coverage offers lessons for reporting on the climate crisis

In early January 2020, the BBC reported about a new “mystery virus” in Wuhan, China. Since then, news organizations around the world have learned important lessons from covering Covid-19 that could become valuable for how they cover the climate crisis.

Never in the history of modern news journalism has a science story — the story of a new pandemic, its prevention and treatment — dominated the news agenda for as long as Covid-19 has. When I asked science journalists if they could think of any precedent, some mentioned the space race between the former Soviet Union and the U.S., from the “Sputnik shock” in 1957 to the moon landing in 1969. While the space race did garner enormous media attention, its effects on everyday life can’t be compared to those caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and it didn’t dominate the worldwide news agenda as much as Covid-19 has.

“The last 18 months have been a step-change for our newsroom,” said Sven Stockrahm, science editor of German news organization Zeit Online. “Of course, our workload has been staggering, but we are delighted to see how normal it has become for all teams in our newsroom to first consult with the science desk before publishing a story that deals with aspects of Covid-19.” The degree of interdisciplinary collaboration with the science desk is new, and it could prove a model for how news organizations cover the climate crisis…..

To continue reading, please see the full story over here at Harvard’s Niemanlab.



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Wolfgang Blau

Co-Founder Oxford Climate Journalism Network / Trustee Director, Internews Europe and Bonn Institute. Prior: Global Chief Operating Officer Condé Nast.