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The Climate Explorer Program

Constructive Institute’s new project – The Climate Explorer Program – is live now.

 

Five of the world’s most accomplished climate reporters from five continents will come together at Aarhus University in Denmark for five months to find new ways for news media to tell the most important story of our time.

 

In a partnership between Constructive Institute and the Novo Nordisk Foundation CO2 Research Center this first cohort of “The Climate Explorer program” will develop journalism approaches that better enlighten and engage audiences to keep the public agenda focused on the global climate transition – without crossing the line into activism.

 

Many newsrooms struggle to keep the editorial focus on climate change and the global news agenda is easily overcrowded. Doomsday headlines of a protracted crisis lead to passivity, dejection and resignation. A report by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) warns against “climate catastrophe journalism” which contributes to climate anxiety and causes media users to stop engaging with news stories on the topic.

 

“Journalism is the most important filter between reality and the public perception of it. But both news media and other democratic institutions globally suffer from serious trust issues. The mission of this project is to inspire the news industry to find best practices to cover climate change in a passionate, trusted, science-based and engaging way”, the founder and CEO of the independent Constructive Institute, Ulrik Haagerup says.

 

 

The program will be led by Cynara Vetch, who has a background in international news from amongst other media organisations Al Jazeera, CCTV Africa and BBC World Service. She is also running the international activities of Constructive Institute out of Nairobi, Kenya. Alexandra Borchardt, a senior media researcher and journalist with decades of management experience in the industry, is appointed co-Director of the Climate Explorer Program. As the lead author of the EBU’s report “Climate Journalism That Works”, she explains why the project is timely:

 

“There has been plenty of excellent climate journalism out there in the past 30 years– only, it obviously hasn’t had the impact many journalists were hoping for. This is why we need to explore new approaches to bringing the challenge home to people quite literally: why does it matter to them, and what can they do to affect change. This is constructive journalism at its best and most urgent: It needs to explore how to construct a sustainable future for humankind.”

 

The program has been developed in partnership with The Novo Nordisk Foundation CO2 Research Center (CORC), who will also fund the pilot program starting early 2024. With 15 science groups at Aarhus University, University of Copenhagen, and Danish Technical University in Denmark, as well as University of Tübingen in Germany and Stanford University in California, CORC brings together an interdisciplinary group of researchers. By joining forces between academia and journalism, CORC and Constructive Institute plan to create a unique project that combines journalistic training and research insights in a new international fellowship program.

 

Tina Fruelund, Director of Communication at CORC, is excited about the new and unique fellowship program which is created as a contribution to closing the gap between science and journalism:

 

“Via this partnership, the five Explorers will have the opportunity to work and interact with researchers working on new carbon technologies, allowing them to diversify their skill set and expand their knowledge of the science and innovation needed to build a future, sustainable carbon economy. Moreover, I see an enormous value in the international perspective that the five explorers can bring to the table.”

 

The Climate Explorer program will run from end of January to the end of June 2024. The five Explorers which all have extensive experience from newsrooms all over the world, will relocate to Aarhus for the five-month fellowship to follow a specifically tailored curriculum of scientific topics related to climate and carbon technologies, as well as receiving an education in constructive journalism at Constructive Institute. At the end of the fellowship program, the Explorers will develop best practice examples of engaging in climate reporting. The findings will among others be presented to the news industry when 1000-1500 publishers and editors meet at the World News Media Congress in Copenhagen in May 2024.

 

The five Climate Explorer candidates will be announced early in the New Year.

 

About the Climate Explorer Program:

• The program will run as a pilot for five months.
• The five fellows will relocate to the city of Aarhus, Denmark for the period.
• Constructive Institute at Aarhus University is the host of the fellows and will immerse the
five fellows into their existing program as well as tailor a specific curriculum for the climate
explorers.
• Novo Nordisk Foundation CO2 Research Center has funded the project with 2.5 m DKK.

 

Check out the new page to learn more about the Climate Explorer Program here.

Meet the Directors of the Program

Cynara Vetch

DIRECTOR OF THE CLIMATE EXPLORER PROGRAM

Cynara Vetch wears two hats at Constructive Institute, also working as the Project Lead for International Projects and Partnerships. In this role she supports journalists in their efforts to serve society better. This could be training constructive approaches when covering climate change, leading democratic bootcamps for female politicians and journalists in Kenya or global conferences for example. 

Previously she worked for over a decade with international news broadcasters including Al Jazeera, BBC and CCTV Africa in the Middle East and Africa. She also led media development projects using media programmes to both inform and entertain.

Prof. Alexandra Borchardt, PhD

CONTENT DIRECTOR OF THE CLIMATE EXPLORER PROGRAM

Alexandra Borchardt is a senior journalist, media researcher, and independent advisor. She works as a coach for the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) in their Table Stakes Europe Programme on the digital transformation of newsrooms and is affiliated with the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford as a Senior Research Associate after having served as their Director of Leadership Programmes until 2019.

Prior to this she was managing editor of Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), Germany’s leading quality daily newspaper. Alexandra is the lead author of the 2023 EBU News Report Climate Journalism That Works: Between Knowledge and Impact.