Yale Climate Media Forum (09/08 Update)

Thanks for visiting our one-year-old site for The Yale Forum on Climate Change and The Media.

A lot can happen, has happened, over the course of the year since we first announced the launch of this site.

The pace of change within the world of journalism and the news business generally has accelerated. And, by most counts, worsened. More newsroom layoffs. Fewer specialized beat reporters. Fewer paid subscribers for the traditional mainstream newspapers, particularly large metropolitan dailies. Fewer advertising dollars from the traditional revenue bulwarks – classified ads, real estate ads, new and used auto ads, job ads.

The same losses, to one extent or another, are also plaguing traditional broadcast and cable outlets.

One thing there’s more of, new media. It’s gotten to the point that you don’t know whether to be pleased or offended to learn you’re being “followed” on Twitter or befriended on Facebook or some other social networking site. Do I really want to be followed? Do I follow back, either in retaliation or to return the favor? What’s it all mean?

That’s a question journalists and other media practitioners find themselves asking all the time when it comes to understanding the new media, and with growing uncertainties notwithstanding the exceptional potential promise and gains involved. Amidst the shoals of grounded careers, they take great pleasure in the outstanding reporting some of their colleagues, but admittedly fewer, continue to crank-out.

The climate story, in all its permutations, falls into this arena. Or is it into this vacuum? Amidst all the change that has happened since the launch of our site nearly a year ago, one thing has not changed: the scientific understanding of the issue, and with it the palpable concerns and anxieties, continues apace. That hasn’t slowed down, and shows no sign of soon doing so. We occasionally find good news, encouraging omens, amid the flood of improved understanding that characterizes our climate science literacy. We occasionally too find outstanding reporting, not solely on the printed pages of our daily and weekly newspapers and magazines but also, and increasingly, online or in one form of “new media” or another.

There is truly extraordinary community and citizen activity going on around the country – much of it well beyond the klieg lights or even tape recorders and digital cameras of much of the traditional “press.” And there is some, but not enough, excellent coverage of those important efforts.

Climate scientists tell us we need more. Climate policy gurus tell us we need better. We can do both, and must.

Our first year has been one of putting our digital foot into the digital information pool. Our second year will start soon with the launch of a newly designed website, reflecting, we hope, some of the outstanding suggestions we’ve received from frequent visitors.

They don’t call the climate change issue a “generational” challenge for nothing. And the same goes for the challenge of more effectively communicating on all that issue holds for our and future generations.

It’s been a fun and rollicking first year online. Thanks for joining us for the ride, and please continue to offer those suggestions and comments as we move forward.

Bud Ward

Bud Ward is editor of Yale Climate Connections. (E-mail: bud@yaleclimateconnections.org).
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