Constructive Journalism Conference:

June 22nd, 2022

Video takeaways from the event

Preliminary findings from the 2023 News Report: Climate Journalism that works – Between Knowledge and Impact


The lead author of an upcoming EBU report, offers some key findings on how to craft journalism about climate change that is likely to have an impact. Dr Alexandra Borchardt, also a member of Constructive Institute’s Advisory Board,  highlighted important strategies for journalists to undertake when tackling the complex and emotive issue of the climate crisis.

The first finding was:

  • Facts alone don’t help. More facts are not necessarily more convincing

Researchers on climate communications have found that the context and constructive focus of  journalism is vital for audience engagement. Dr Borchardt explained that

“Stories are more likely to work if they are related to the here and now instead of to the distant future, tied to a local context, convey agency, are constructive or solutions-oriented, and envision a sustainable future instead of emphasizing sacrifice, crisis, destruction, loss and disaster. While doom scrolling might capture attention for a brief moment, it also risks driving people into news avoidance. ”

“Stories are more likely to work if they are … constructive or solutions-oriented, and envision a sustainable future”

The EBU report will be published in Spring 2023 but in the meantime Dr Borchardt has shared a Q & A with Wolfgang Blau, co founder of the Oxford Climate Journalism Network. Blau spent two years exploring climate journalism as a visiting fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in Oxford and his findings echo Dr Borchardt’s. Blau explained that in order to counter climate denial more and better journalism is needed but that “Denial has many layers and is something that can rarely ever be transformed with shock-and-awe journalism.”

“Denial has many layers and is something that can rarely ever be transformed with shock-and-awe journalism.”

Constructive Institute recently ran training on constructive climate coverage for 24 African journalists in Arusha, Tanzania. Partnering with the Danida Fellowship Centre CI’s facilitators worked with reporters and editors from Burkina Faso to South Africa discussing how best to cover climate change at the COP 27 meeting and beyond. CI’s Project Lead for international projects and partnerships, Cynara Vetch, outlined the importance of such projects in a recent article for WAN IFRA.