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Katja Boxberg and Sarah Golczyk

Both former Constructive Institute Fellows, from left journalist at Finish Talouselämä news magazine and journalist at Danish Broadcasting Corporation

“We wanted to facilitate a discussion between scientists and journalists in order to see what we can learn from each other, and how to do better when reporting on the biggest story of our time; the climate changes. ”

Sarah Golczyk, Former Constructive Institute Fellow & journalist, Danish Broadcasting Corporation

Summary

Katja Boxberg and Sarah Golczyk hosted a virtual Climate Reporting Workshop in June 2020 for journalists and scientists. They wanted to do a workshop bridging the gap between climate science and climate journalism and discuss how to do more constructive climate reporting. They found that it was interesting to dive into what scientists and journalists can learn from each other if they start to listen to each other a whole lot more.

 

How They Did It

 

The third pillar of the framework for doing constructive news stories at Constructive Institute is the promotion of democratic conversation, and Katja and Sarah tapped into this ambition by engaging journalists and scientists in a constructive discussion. They decided to focus the context of the discussion to include only the nordic countries. “First, we thought about setting up a global discussion, but then we realized that there is a difference in the way climate change is acknowledged and discussed around the globe. The Nordic countries are in many ways in a similar situation, so we decided to focus on them,” they explain.

Even though countries were under lockdown during the spring of 2020 and a live debate was not possible, the workshop ended up with many participants from all the nordic countries. “Corona pandemic made us change the workshop from a live event to a virtual workshop. That made it easier for the scientists and the journalists to participate from all the Nordic countries,” Sarah and Katja explain.

Here is a list of all the participants

Scientists:

  • Kimberly Nicholas, Associate Professor of Sustainability Science at Lund University in Sweden.
  • Mads Faurschou Knudsen, Associate Professor at Department of Geoscience, Aarhus University in Denmark.
  • Riikka Rinnan, Professor, Terrestrial Ecology, Copenhagen University, Denmark.
  • Jessica Haapkyla, Marine biologist, PhD in coral disease ecology, Finland.
  • Carsten Suhr Jacobsen, Head of Department, Professor, Department of Environmental Science, Aarhus University, Denmark

Journalists:

  • Loukas Christodoulou, Radio Sweden
  • Lotte Krank-van de Burgt, YLE, Finland
  • Thomas Hebsgaard, Zetland, Denmark
  • Martin Breum, Journalist and writer, Denmark
  • Mads Nyborg Støstad, NRK, Norway
  • Sigrún Steffánsdóttier, journalist, Iceland
  • Hans Davidsen Nielsen, Politiken, Denmark
  • Trine Juncher Jørgensen, Sermitsiaq, Greenland

Activist:

  • Kaisa Kosonen, Greenpeace

Moderators:

  • Morten Runge, Danish Broadcasting Corporation
  • Katja Boxberg, Talouselämä news magazine, Finland
  • Sarah Golczyk, Danish Broadcasting Corporation

The key elements of the conversations

What they learned:

The result of the workshop was a mutual understanding of each other and an urge to work together, to fight climate change. “The workshop proved that there is a need for discussion and for mutual understanding between the journalists and the scientists. Both groups felt that there is a good basis for co-operation. Participants felt that working together could make the fight against climate change more efficient,” Sarah and Katja states.

“The coolest thing about our workshop was that the journalists and the scientists can continue the discussion afterwards in a common FB-group. There is a need for collaboration and support of the network.”

Katja Boxberg, Journalist, Talouselämä news magazine


Key Takeaways

1. Every story today is a climate story — perspective matters. Find the climate angle in every story – whether reporting on economy, health or migration. To make a point, find concrete examples close to you, such as a local and personal angle rather than just a planetary one. That makes it easier for people to feel closer to the issue.

2. Be transparent and address “normal people.” Be clear about how the interview is going to appear. Try to avoid expert talk.

3. Know that we strive for the same. We are fact-finders, unbiased and striving to get the right information out in the public. However, we work at a different pace and have different ideas about what a good story is. We need new ways of communicating the complexity.

4. Look to others for inspiration. NRK’s Chasing Climate Change project can serve as an example.

5. Use the right experts. If we talk about energy, talk to an expert in energy. If we talk about food production, talk to an expert in food production.

6. Focus on solutions. People want hope. Do not make the climate change a question of extinction but give hope. “The people who are alive right now are really setting the thermostat for the planet for potentially tens of thousands of years,” says Kimberly Nicolas, Lund University.