The four joint editors of the Climate News Network are all former specialist science and environment writers for British media, chiefly The Guardian, The Financial Times and the BBC. We all have experience of mentoring developing world journalists, who need access to resources and contacts in order to report effectively on climate change. This is the challenge we established the Network to address: vital resources and contacts are often hard to find in developing countries, but are abundant in the global North. Our target journalists sometimes also need help in writing and broadcasting effectively, and we share our experience of trying to tell the facts of climate change as clearly and compellingly as possible and in a way that readers, listeners and viewers will quickly understand.
Climate News Network provides five weekly news stories on climate and energy science, mitigation and adaptation. We publish under a Creative Commons license, so although our output is aimed primarily at fellow-journalists, it is available to anyone, for use in any way they want. We charge nothing for it and pay ourselves nothing. We email our news stories daily (Monday to Friday) to a user list and also publish them on our website – https://climatenewsnetwork.net/ and on Twitter and Facebook. We mentor developing world journalists online at no cost and are expanding our training and mentoring activity. We also provide training workshops in-country at minimal cost. The Network is an NGO, registered at Companies House in London as a Private Limited Company. Key milestones have been our ability to attract funding from foundations, but at the moment we are receiving less than we need ideally. We can continue to produce the Network, but we face a serious challenge from our own age (an average of nearly 75 years for the four editors). So we are working to recruit some younger colleagues to keep the Network going with the same spirit.
Objectives and beneficiaries
Our objectives include helping journalists, on whom society relies to report the facts of climate change as objectively as possible, and scientists, whose findings we report accurately and without bias. We are not campaigners: we seek to tell the Network's users what is happening to the world's climate, and to provide the dispassionate context which makes sense of the facts. We report when possible on ways of adapting to climate reality, and we seek always to use the voices of those affected. We concentrate on developing world journalists because they often need the help we can offer, and because they, their readers and audiences are often on the front line of climate change. Our working model is very simple: we all contribute news stories, depending on our availability; each story is read by at least one other editor; one editor is then responsible for sub-editing, publishing and distributing the story.
Strong points of the solution
The Network uses the knowledge and experience (more than a century altogether) of its journalists, who have each been reporting on climate change since before the IPCC began work: one user calls us "the folk memory of climate journalism". Our model costs very little to maintain: we have no fixed assets, we are an entirely digital operation, and we take no money from it. We can reach many individuals and platforms very simply and cheaply: at a conservative estimate, we reach several million people when we include the websites which use us regularly. We are innovative, showing that people of any age can contribute usefully to warning the world of the dangers of climate change. We can be a model for much wider use: what we are doing to report climate would work just as well for other urgent problems like species loss, water shortage, poverty and hunger. And we are journalists writing for journalists, so we produce straightforward copy with plenty of references and links.
Expected results and benefits for climate change adaptation and mitigation
The benefits of climate adaptation and mitigation will be clear when people globally recognize the facts and the urgency of climate change, partly because of the skilled work of journalists.
They will accept that it is a real problem, that it is urgent and happening now, that humans play a large part in continuing to worsen it through fossil fuel consumption and other factors - and that it is not too late at least to adapt significantly to what is already inevitable. We wish we could expect these benefits within our own lifetimes: sadly we do not! But we are determined to work to equip the next generation of journalists, society's watchmen and women, to alert the world to what is happening now and what will happen without a new way of thinking - thinking instinctively of the climate change potential of every decision we do (and do not) take. Knowledge is power, and providing people with greater knowledge of climate change reality empowers them to act.
Scalability potential of the solution
The Network could easily be scaled up to work on much more widely. All we need is the people to do it, and a little extra money. We want to tell developing countries' associations of journalists what we are doing, so they can use our published stories and our training resources. We want to extend and refine those resources, to ensure they are tailored specifically to different skill levels, cultural and language groups. We want to explore whether we should seek the funds to provide versions of our material translated into appropriate languages. We want to explore the potential for publishing not only a full version of every story (most are around 7-800 words) but also shorter ones, for readers in a rush. We are working to explore the potential for publishing e-books of some sections of our content, and charging a small price for them. And we want to share our model with other groups who could use it, including environment, human rights and indigenous peoples' organisations.
[Editor's Note: All information published as submitted by the author(s). Minor edits may have been made for length and clarity.]