June 21, 2016

As you cover environmental and climate change issues remember: Nothing in science is ever fully definitive. There is still much to be discovered and understood. And keep in mind that covering policy is a little different from covering science.

Here are some ways to explore your coverage:

Look for divisiveness: Policy experts will disagree on major policy questions, which makes it a fruitful area for developing story ideas. And on a local level, climate policy is likely to involve efforts to adapt to emerging climate changes.

All things aren’t equal: Stories should reflect where the balance of scientific opinion resides. If the vast majority of climate scientists believe, based on credible evidence, that continued emissions of greenhouse gases will ultimately lead to significant risks, reporters do not have to present a false balance by always finding an expert who can argue otherwise.

You’re just the messenger ― with a mirror: Science may inform policy, but it doesn’t dictate which policies are correct. That’s because policy-making involves people with different values. Hold a journalistic mirror up to conversation. You can provide the full range of information and analysis people need to make up their minds and develop policies.

Taken from Covering Climate Change, a self-directed course by Tom Yulsman
at Poynter NewsU.

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Vicki Krueger has worked with The Poynter Institute for more than 20 years in roles from editor to director of interactive learning and her current…
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