This year voters have an opportunity to apply that pressure, but they need journalists to equip them with the insight and power that knowledge gives. Simply by giving them the information to cast informed ballots; especially in climate change, which is inherently political, but the coverage can be political without being partisan. The best coverage will interrogate what candidates plan to do about climate change and push them to square those plans with what science calls for: a rapid phase out of oil, gas, and coal.
It is very important that journalists and newsrooms everywhere ponder Journalism Professor Jay Rosen’s advice that campaign coverage should focus on “not the odds, but the stakes.” As of Prof. Rosen’s twit last year (2023): “Not who has what chances of winning, but the consequences for our democracy. Not the odds, but the stakes.” Too often, elections coverage only focuses on the horse race: who’s up, who’s down in polls and to appear as unbiased. Please be reminded that some four billion people – roughly half the human population – will get the opportunity to vote in 2024, making this the biggest election year of all time.
The fact showed clearly that 2023 was the world’s hottest on record by a wide margin. On the other hand, the US experienced a historic number of billion-dollar climate disasters. Science says that we must act now if we want to avoid the worst climate impacts. The good news is polling shows that audiences are overwhelmingly hungry for more climate coverage and want to know what governments plan to do about climate change. This is an excellent opportunity for coverage and follow-up: press the candidates to explain what their plans are about climate crisis; and then hold them to be accountable for their words and actions.
Let’s focus for news coverage to help voters make informed choices, especially about such life-and-death issues as democracy and climate change as by the example of ‘Focusing on the stakes – not just at this month in Iowa and New Hampshire, but for all elections around the world in the remainder of 2024 – is what this moment in history demands of journalism’.