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tv   The Media Show  BBC News  October 23, 2021 4:30pm-5:01pm BST

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with katie razzall. hello. heat pumps, decarbonisation, the paris agreement, net zero. less than two weeks to go until cop26, we have been deluged with jargon. how much do you understand about climate change? do you know what cop stands for? conference of the parties if you don't. we are asking what role the media has in educating us about climate change. maybe you feel hectored rather than informed or feel the media is not going far enough if we now face an existential crisis — should journalists dispense with objectivity and become activists? let me introduce our panel. daniela chiarett is environment reporter at brazil's biggest financial newspaper, valor economico. natasha clark is the environment
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correspondent for the sun. tom chivers signs is the science editor at unherdo, and wolfgang blau is the former chief operating officer of conde nast but now the co—founder of the oxford climate journalism network. i gather you feel so strongly about climate change that you paused your career. that is true, it suddenly came to the moment when i realised this is notjust a topic, this is so huge in every single area of journalism, notjust news or science will be changed. i felt i had to take a proper time out to try and understand what this is all about. welcome to you all, let's look first at how the media's approach to climate change has evolved over the last decade. tom, you wrote about science at buzzfeed, before that you were at the telegraph, how have things changed? most prominently it has got
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bigger, widely discussed. certainly there has been huge progress, in the last few years, the bbc in particular has started to avoid false balance and presenting on the one hand a climate scientist with years of experience and then some guy who writes blogs for the telegraph, presenting them as alternative views, as though they have equal weight. there is much less of that now. coverage is better, more weight on scientific outputs, i would say it is sometimes going to the point where we are overstating. to the point where we are reading articles about people saying they are not having children because they are so scared, and i worry sometimes we go too far and present it as an
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existential threat which will kill everyone, but i feel like there was much more of a grounded in science and less contrarian nonsense than there used to be. it is gone for a niche green issue in front—page news, and you would formally have overlapped with borisjohnson. —— it has gone from. i have an anecdote about that. he wrote a piece about saying climate scientists have convinced us all it would be warm and we have all bought swimming pools, and now it is still cold, what a con. i pointed out this was silly. i gather that months later he said he was going to pitch another piece but that i would tell him and various other people, there was overlap, climate _ sceptic voices at the telegraph, i tried my best to be a counterweight to them.
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he has clearly been on a journey since then. wolfgang, prior to where you are now, you worked in journalism your whole career, what have you concluded as to how climate change reporting has changed? we have reached a point where it is routinely on the front page. when i was editor we also had a climate week and tried to look at the topic from all angles. it always felt like a topic, something of a special issue, and we didn't understand that it was systemic and needs to be part of every vertical. for example, in sports journalism, your read a story about a player transferring or a super league versus the champions league. we are all used to seeing financial information in sports journalism. we do not say, oh, finance journalism in the sports section. similarly we are now in a process of normalising climate journalism across all verticals.
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that is necessary because there is no topic that is not affected. explain what you mean by vertical. sports, culture, science, how you structure, the navigation of a news website. the different subjects, you say it cuts across them all. yes, for a long time when tom started his climatejournalism, it usually turned up in the science section, occasionally in the politics section when there was a big summit. increasingly it has started to show up in the economics or business section because of publicly listed companies having to reveal their risks from climate change on certain stock markets. but now we see it emerging in the culture section, sports, food, gardening, real estate, technology. that is a really good thing, we have made progress.
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it is normalised from the people running these organisations, what about the audience appetite for stories, how are they feeling about reading all this stuff? i don't know, there is certainly, without putting numbers on it, my instinct is that there is a strong appetite for all angles on it, stilla big niche for people who want to write contrarian staff, get huge audiences for saying it is not a problem. you will also get huge audiences if you say we are doomed in the next few months. as with alljournalism, it is complicated. the reality is often technical and difficult, doesn't lend itself well to media headlines, so how much of an audience there is for that, projections etc, i like to think there is an audience for that,
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i hope there is, but as with everything else there is also a much greater audience or easier audience to get for sensationalist or contrarian takes. maybe you have the numbers on this, in terms of audience appetite, but i wonder a bigger point, what obligation do journalists have to reflect the views of people who do not believe this is an emergency? there are significant numbers who are not persuaded, a survey last month, nearly 30% either do not believe human activity is to blame for climate change, are not sure, or think it is not real. is the journalist's job to pursuade them? yes, and from studies of the reuters institute, we know that the number one source for people to get information about the climate crisis is news media. also government, universities,
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cultural institutions, celebrities. given the importance of the news media, we have a responsibility to educate about the basics of climate change. i think that the conversation has moved on a bit, the battle is no longer over the question of whether climate change is happening or human made, it is now much more about urgency, how quickly we have to address it, and who is paying the cost of the transition and carrying the risk. you see that shift in australia where rupert murdoch's mastheads are announcing a shift in their coverage, it is no longer about it about being real, but about how quickly we have to switch to renewables. natasha, you are an environment correspondent, what is the sun's approach to reporting this? i think the sun's -
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approach to the whole topic is our readers are more - interested in this than they were, i we did a poll a couple of years ago. that showed readers were much more i interested than we ever thought. they were, 89% were concerned about i plastic pollution, half were sayingl they do not throw away coffee cups anymore, they were trying not to use |them, and that has become an issue| that i think sun readers more and more care about, - this is why we have set - up our campaigns, our readers and the whole world is much more | interested in climate change than| they were. i work in westminster, - you talk to politicians and that is what they say as well, more people are more interested in it, _ so we had to reflect that in our reporting and - what we do day—to—day. do you set out to readers about the severity of the climate emergency? do you set out to persuade?
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we are not persuading our readers, but i think- it is more an opportunity to set out what exactly is going on, the - playing field we are in, the - situation we are in, like wolfgang said, it is notjust- about if it is happening, it is about how urgent it is, all the polls showed - there is a minority of people who do not think climate change exists, i think most— people realise something is - happening to our planet and we have to do something about it, - but they are unsure about how exactly that has happened, what they can do about - it, and the cost of this transition of going green, what it - means for them and their pockets, that is what we're trying _ to explain. wolfgang was talking about normalising this kind of reporting, in terms of you as your editor, how keen are you to put green
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stories on the front page? you made the front page last friday with the queen's hot mic moment, her majesty the green, was the headline. yes, to see things that go together well, the royalsl and climate change, we have seen. prince charles who has long been an advocate of this, the queen getting involved, i think she is a _ secret green as well, our readers iare interested in those stories. i is it rare to get green issues on the front page? the queen is a separate issue. it is a high bar to get anything on the front page, it has- to be punchy, and green| subjects at the moment, doomsday climate reports may not be the kind of thing is what _ every reader wants to read about. but as we go into cop26, _ world leaders coming from around the world, that will be up _ there at the front of the newspaper.
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daniela chiaretti, environment reporter at valor economico, what do you make of our discussions? are these questions you have been hearing in brasil? first of all, thank you for having me. i was listening to what was being said, saying similar things, i covered this issue in brazil for 13 years, and the first time i went to interview a climatologist, he said, why are you here? this is strange, why? he said exactly what wolfgang and tom were saying, that you usually talk to the science pages of the newspapers, and if somebody from the market,
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is keen to see you here, maybe you can get a broader audience. this is quite the same. the only point i think should change is that at this point now... i went more than a0 times to the amazon, it is as big as europe, so every time i go there it is a different experience. in brazil, we talk more languages than in the united nations because we have 300 different peoples living there. what i think is that at this point coal is not the big issue for a country like brazil, but it is a huge issue otherwise, so somehow we should change a little bit our perspective and start to talk more
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between the global south countries, so brazil and congo and indonesia, all these mega—diverse countries, we have a lot in common. you mentioned the amazon earlier, clearly many people will know quite how key the amazon is to all of this, but in the spirit of wolfgang's call for us to learn more about climate change, explain why brazil is so important when it comes to climate change, notjust for your country but for the whole world. yes, thank you. first of all, we are important for two big reasons. the first is that brazil is one of the biggest emitters in the world, because when we deforested the amazon, there are big greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.
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the other thing is that the forest is important because for many reasons, not only because the trees capture and store carbon, but also because of the biodiversity, it is a huge treasure that we don't know what is there. also for all the knowledge of these indigenous people i mentioned before. so, yes, it is important for brazil that the tropical forest has a very important role with rain. the rain is important for our country, for the countries that are neighbours, like argentina, and for the climate of the world. we are all connected. wolfgang, we heard about the global south there, issues being
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different when it comes to club old climate change, what do you make of howjournalists around the world are approaching climate change? you mentioned the newscorp decision to change from a sceptical position. this summer, with the heatwaves in europe and the various floods, you often heard european politicians say the climate crisis is real and it is here. i found that almost an odd thing to say, understood in the context of national politics, but we do not look at africa, four of the world's five most hardest—hit countries are in africa, which happen to be countries that have done very little to contribute to climate change. it is hugely important to see this as a global issue. we experience it mostly locally, do not forget that, but you
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also made an important point earlier. this is one of the questions that led me to my year of studying, why it is so difficult to break through with climate journalists. ten years ago we had a shortage of climate journalists. just the amount of content. now there is quite a lot but for some reason it hardly makes it into the prime—time news slot or on that front page or the number one spot on a website. what that touches upon is how we decide what is news and what isn't. if you give me a minute, i looked into that question just by asking news editors, having been one myself, on what criteria do you make that decision? when you talk with them for a while, they don't just talk about instinct but recency, has itjust happened? the climate crisis somehow gets worse in the future so you could just
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as well cover it next week. it gets filtered out many times, second is geographic vicinity, is it close to my viewers? most of the year it is worse somewhere else. it gets filtered out. can i tell it as a people story or is it a slow—moving thing? it is a process, so gets filtered out. is it simply enough to tell it in a quick show or do i need quick footnotes? the climate crisis is rather complicated and multi causal, so the last criteria left is public interest. the shift i see happening at news organisations is they have said in france, if you find a story where you have a financial aspect, if there is also a climate aspect, we want to see it. that is a key shift that we will see across news organisations. daniela chiaretti, you are facing challenges in brazil because it is highly politicised because of the policies
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of bolsonaro. does that mean in brazil that you feel you are an activist? more and more young people are interested in climate issues in brazil, and in the amazon. i am a journalist, i think the activists are different animals. but i would be an activist if not a journalist. this is a huge challenge in the world, and so, yeah, i think environment and climate and things like that are important, and in this sense i am acting in my role as an activist.
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tom, does it present a challenge? there will never be one day - when we can say climate change has happened, it will always be - ambiguous things, there will be some heatwave in sub—saharan africa - which kills some number of people, is that climate change? probably. but there is no... this will continue to - happen, a real challenge. it willjust be the world getting slightly- worse in lots of little ways that. you cannot ever really specifically say, this is climate change, you always have to say... . it will always make it hard to have a big headline - that says, climate - change has done this. also to say, we told you so. because it is always possible - to attribute these things to chance. that is part of it. that ties into the idea of a challenge to - journalistic objectivity, but everything does, l
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if you're writing about social - justice for example, anything like that, it is hard. a lot ofjournalists . would say we are not supposed to do that, - we are supposed to be actively pushing for good police and actions. —— good beliefs. i am quite puritan - about these things and i think the job of a journalist - is to say true things and find out what is true and do your bestj to persuade people it is true. that is my... you have to select what is important. that becomes the job i of a journalist, find out what is a true and important and tell people. _ not to distort reality - to achieve political ends. i suppose if you bill it an emergency, some
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people will disengage. i do worry about that, a lot. ijust read a piece _ about some guy having what seemed to be a psychological crisis about the climate change. - people not having children. there's lots of other factors. but this sort of thing, i think it is a vexed i question about whether telling - people we are doomed will make them work harder to avoid doom| or make them complacent. i think the reality that it will kill, . central projections, l likely to contribute to millions of deaths a year and cost trillions of dollars in economic- damage and make life much harder, that reality is scary enough without. then having to say it is an existential threat. i natasha, you were nodding.
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it is just interesting, we're grappling with it, how to make these issues relevant to our readers. whether the doom and gloom narrative that is climate change, which is obviously true, it is something that our readers should be told about and involved in, but whether that is going to make them care about the issue any more is a huge issue that is up for debate. what i am trying to do is a mixed style of reporting, notjust doom and gloom, notjust those stories about how the world is burning but show the opportunities that green can have, that climate change can have, and to save our readers money, that is a good way to get people involved. by saying to them what the benefits can be, how it can be good, good for your bank balance. we are trying to focus on the wider consumer—led issues as well because that gets readers interested, things
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like buying an electric car, replacing gas boilers. these are everyday things people can relate to, that is how to get them involved. that's what we're trying to do, across all of the different sections of the newspaper. everyone was nodding on that one, but wolfgang, when it comes to howjournalists approach the fact that within climate science there is still much to debate, not to debate whether it is happening, but questioning science is a core part of science, it wasn't that long ago that you had a discussion about climate change on tv, a sceptic would be alongside the scientist, those days are past and rightly, but i cannot remember the last time i heard any sort of nuanced scientific dissent. is that a problem? i don't share that observation, i see quite a lot of scientific dissent, as it
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should be, doubt is a core feature of science, some of the greatest scientific breakthroughs considered —— consist of overthrowing other previous certainties, so i agree, and some scientists say there is a struggle with journalists wanting definitive answers. going back to that elephant in the room, activists will question, my personal view is thatjournalists should not resort to activism and that there is no need for it, but we need to give the topic the visibility it deserves in the public interest. what is more difficult is, what is activism? activism a lot of the time consists of not reporting on the issue. i have to stop you there, we have run out of time. thanks to all our guests — daniela chiaretti, natasha clark, tom chivers, wolfgang blau. the media show will be back
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at the same time next week, but for now, thanks for listening. goodbye. temperatures edging higher today, less sunshine than yesterday, plenty of cloud out there, and for some we have had rain and a bit more on the way as we get on into the evening. a weather system bringing rain, particularly into western scotland and northern ireland, it may have turned the wind to a milder south—westerly bar as we know, along with this flow of air coming in from the south—west we have had plenty of cloud. count yourself lucky if you have seen sunshine. a wet evening across western scotland and northern ireland, 20—a0 millimetres
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of rain in western scotland, disruption as a result. rain clearing from northern ireland later as the main pre—season to wales and the western side of england. central and eastern england, dry, cloud, mild night. windy out there. tomorrow, taking our weather system and make the rain increasingly patchy and showery as it pushes to wales and across england as the day goes on. it will brighten up behind it, bright in scotland and northern ireland, showers for western scotland, could be heavy, may be a problem than down. may be a rumble of thunder quite blustery out there, average wind speeds, gusts will behind, a mild direction, held by more in the way of sunshine tomorrow afternoon, highs of around 14—16. parts of east anglia and southeast ngland holding off any chance of rain until very late in the day. monday, in between weather systems, your
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bright day but fairly blustery. showers around, low pressure coming back from tuesday onwards, parking to the west of the uk, weather systems stalled across the north and west as a result. monday, sunny spells around, breezy, showers moving in from the west, some tracking further east as we go on through the day. a bit fresher on monday, temperatures around 11—14 c. as a weather system sits to the west from tuesday, a stalled weather system north and west, that will bring some outbreaks of rain at times, not necessarily all the time, parts of the east and south—east of england staying largely dry for much of the week, mild for all.
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this is bbc news the headlines at five teachers call for tougher action against covid in england's schools, saying staff are "on their knees". a senior government adviser on covid warns the uk could face another lockdown at christmas — and tells people they shouldn't wait for ministers to take action. to everything possible in your control to try to reduce transmission. do not wish for the government to change policy. the sooner we all act, the sooner we can get this transmission rate down in the greater the prospect of having a christmas our families. ministers promise half a billion pounds to support families in the budget, but the labour party calls it a "smokescreen". court documents show alec baldwin was told that a prop gun was safe in the moments before
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he accidentally killed a crew member on set.

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