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tv   The Media Show  BBC News  October 26, 2021 1:30am-2:01am BST

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hello. heat pumps, decarbonisation, the paris agreement, net zero. with less than two weeks to go until cop26, we're being deluged with detail and jargon. but how much do you actually understand about climate change? do you even know what cop actually stands for? it's conference of the parties, if you don't. today, we're asking what role the media has in educating us about climate change. maybe you feel hectored, rather than informed. or maybe you think the media isn't going far enough. if we now face an existential crisis, should journalists dispense with the notion of objectivity and become activists in the fight to save the planet? let me introduce our panel. daniela chiaretti is environment reporter at brazil's biggest financial newspaper, valor economico. natasha clark is the environment correspondent for the sun. tom chivers is the science
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editor at unherd. and wolfgang blau is the former global chief operating officer of conde nast — but he's now the co—founder of the oxford climate journalism network. wolfgang, i gather you feel so strongly about climate change that you basically paused your career to educate yourself? it's true, kate. it suddenly came to that moment where i realised this is notjust a topic. this is so huge in every single area ofjournalism — sports, culture, notjust news or science journalism would be changed. and i felt i had to take a proper time—out to really at least try and understand what this is all about. well, welcome to you all. let's look first at how the media's approach to climate change has a evolved over the last decade or so. tom, let's start with you — you're the science editor at unherd, prior to that you wrote about science at buzzfeed — before that, you were at the telegraph. how have things changed in that time? well, i mean, most prominently, it's become a much bigger and
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more widely discussed topic. and certainly there's been huge progress. for example, in the last few years, the bbc in particular has started to avoid — i'm sure you're all aware of the topic of false balance and presenting on the one hand, you'd have some climate scientist with years of experience working on the topic, then some guy who writes blogs for the telegraph to present an alternative view as though they have equal weight. now there's much less of that these days. i think broadly speaking, the coverage has got much better. there's much more weight on scientific output. i mean, i would say it's almost sometimes gone to the point where we are overstating, you know, i'm reading articles about people saying they aren't having children because they are so scared of it all, and i worry sometimes that we're going too far in presenting it as some gigantic, terrifying, existential threat that
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will kill everyone. but certainly i feel like there's much more of a grounded—in—science and much less—contrarian nonsense than there used to be. yes, i suppose it's gone from a niche green issue to front—page news. and i suppose, actually, in your time at the telegraph, you'd have overlapped with borisjohnson in his days as a columnist? so i have an anecdote about that which i've never... yeah, he wrote a piece about saying climate scientists have convinced us all it was going to be warm and loads of people bought pools as a result, and it's still cold, and how dare you, climate scientists, you've conned us all. and i wrote a thing pointing out that this was all silly. then i gather that a few months later, he said he was going to pitch another piece about climate change, but he said, "tom chivers would write something telling me off again." so yes, we overlapped and various other people. there was a lot of climate—sceptic voices at the telegraph, and i tried my best to be a counterweight to them as best i could.
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and he's clearly gone on a journey since then, we are told. apparently. wolfgang, prior to conde nast, you were an editor at zeit in germany, you've worked injournalism your whole career. what have you concluded as to how climate change reporting has changed? now we've reached a point where it's routinely on the front page. when i was editor at zeit, we also had a climate week and tried to look at the topic from all angles. it always felt like a topic, something you create a special issue or have a climate week. and we didn't understand that it's systemic and needs to be part of every vertical. to give you an example, what i mean by that — often in sports journalism, you read a story about a player transfer or the super league versus the champions league, and we're all used to seeing financial information in sportsjournalism. and we don't say, "oh, look financialjournalism in the sports section." and similarly, i think
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we are now in this process of ultra—normalising climate journalists across all verticals. and that's really necessary because there's no topic or vertical that is not affected... what do you mean by vertical? for people who don't know, what's a vertical? a vertical is sports culture, science, politics — it's how you structure. just imagine it like the navigation of a news website, for instance. so the different subjects, and you're saying it cuts across them all? correct. and for the longest time, when tom started, climate journalism usually showed up in the science section or science vertical. occasionally in the politics section, especially when there was a big summit like cop coming up in glasgow. and increasingly, it's started to show up in the economics and business section, because of publicly listed companies having to reveal their risks from climate change on certain stock markets, and things like that. but now we see it emerge in the culture section, in sports, food, gardening, real estate, technology
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journalism — and i think that's a really good thing. so we have made progress. ok, so it's normalised certainly from the people running these organisations — tom, what about the audience appetite for stories, the audience appetite? how are they feeling about reading all this stuff? well, i don't know. there's certainly a... without using numbers to check, i feel my instinct is there is a strong appetite for all angles on it — as in, there's still a big niche for people who want to write the contrarian stuff, saying, you know, you'll get huge audiences if you write stuff saying it's not a problem. you'll also get huge audiences if you write that we're all definitely doomed and will die in the next few months. and i think, as with all journalism, it's this really complicated thing about how the reality is often technical and difficult, and doesn't lend itself well to immediate headlines. so, how much of an audience there is for "this is highly technical, these are the projections,
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these are our reasons for trusting the projections or not" — i like to think there's an audience for that, and i hope there is because i spend an awful lot of time trying to write those things. but, as with everything else, there's also a much greater or easier audience to get for sensationalist or contrarian takes on it. wolfgang, maybe you have the numbers on this, i don't know in terms of audience appetite for it, but also i wonder what obligation do journalists have to reflect the views of people who don't believe this is an emergency? because there are significant numbers of people in the uk who aren't persuaded — there was a yougov survey last month, nearly 30% either don't believe human activity is to blame for climate change, aren't sure, or think climate change isn't real. is it the journalist's job to persuade them or ignore them? what do you think? it's not only the journalist's job but, from studies the reuters institute, we know that the number one source for people to get information about the climate crisis is news media.
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there are many other communicators — governments, universities, cultural institutes, celebrities — but, yes, given the importance of the news media, we do have a responsibility to educate also 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 whether it's human—made — it's now much more about how urgent is it, how quickly do we have to address it, and who is paying the cost of the transition in carrying the risk? and you can see that shift even in australia, where rupert murdoch's roughly 100 mast heads are now, just in the last days, announcing a shift in their coverage. it's no longer about climate change being real or dangerous, it's about how quickly do we have to transition to renewables, for instance? natasha, you're environment correspondent for the sun, i want to bring you in here — what is the sun's approach to reporting climate change? hi, thanks for having me. i think the sun's approach
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to the whole topic is our l readers are more interested in this than they ever were. | we did a poll a couple years. ago that showed that readers were much more interested than we ever actually- thought they were — - 89% were concerned about plastic pollution, half- were saying that they don't use throw—away coffee cups any more and were trying not _ to use them. and it'sjust become an issue that some readers more - and more care about, . and our campaign to try and raise awareness of climate change and tell our readers - what things they can dol to combat it — and that's exactly why i think we set that up, because our readers- and the whole uk, the whole i world are much more interested in climate change than they were. l i work in westminster, as well, and you talk l to politicians and mps, - and that's exactly what they say, that more and more people are interested - in climate change. and we felt we had to reflect that in our reporting - in what we do day—to—day. do you actively set out in that to persuade the minority
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of readers who aren't fully on board with the idea of a climate emergency? i don't think we're - in a position at the moment now where we're trying i to persuade our readers to do x, y, orz, - and believe x, y, orz. but i think it's more - of an opportunity to set out exactly what's going on, i the playing field that we're in, the situation we're in and, like wolfgang said a momentl ago, it's notjust - about if it's happening, it's about how urgent it is. all the polls show there i is a minority of people that don't think climate change exists and are so—called . climate change deniers. most people realise that something is happeningl to our planet and realise that we've got to do something i about it, but they're a little| bit unsure as to exactly how that's happened, what they can do about it and, like you said, i the cost of this transition in going green, what it'll| mean to them and what it means for their pockets. so we're trying to explain that to people and stand i up for our readers. and wolfgang was talking about normalising this kind of reporting —
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in terms of you and your editor, how keen is your editor to put green stories on the front page? i see you made the front page last friday with "queen's hot mic moment, her majesty, the green," was the byline, i think? absolutely, and two thingsl i think are really interesting that go really well are the royals - and climate change. we've seen prince charles hasj long been an advocate of this, now we've seen the queen i getting involved — and i think she is a secret green, as well, and our readers will be - interested in those stories. but is it rare to get green issues on the front page? clearly the queen is a slightly separate issue. totally — it's a pretty. high bar to get anything on the front page of the sun i newspaper, it has to be punchy — and definitely green - subjects, at the moment, some doomsday climate reports might not be the kind of thingsl that every reader wants i to read about, absolutely. but i'm sure as we gol into cop26, we'll have boris johnson and world leadersj coming from around the world — i'm sure that'll be up - at the front of the newspaper.
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daniela, environmental reporter at brazil's valor economico — i suppose, what do you make of our discussion so far? are these discussions between journalists that you've been hearing so far here, are they similar to the ones you're having in brazil? yes, first of all, thanks for having me here. most welcome. i yeah, was listening to you all, and they are all very similar things. so for instance, i've been covering these issues in valor since 2008, so for 13 years. and the first time i went to interview a climatologist in brazil, he said, "why are you here? this is strange." and they said exactly what wolfgang and tom were saying — "you usually talk to the science pages of the newspapers." and if somebody from the market, let's say, is going to see you here in this newspaper, maybe you can get a broader
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audience and more readers. so, yes, this is quite the same. the only point that i think it should change is at this point now... for instance, i went more than a0 times to the amazon, and the amazon is as big as europe. so every time i go there, it's a different experience. for instance, in brazil, we speak more languages than the united nations, because we have 300 different peoples living there. so what i think is that at this point — for instance, coal. coal is not a big issue for a country like brazil, but deforestation is a huge issue. so i think somehow, we should change, a little bit, our perspective, and start to talk more between the global
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south countries like brazil and congo, and indonesia — all these mega—diverse countries where we have a lot in common. you mentioned the amazon earlier — clearly many people will know how key the amazon is to all this. but in the spirit of wolfgang's call for us to learn more about climate change, just explain why brazil is so important when it comes to climate change — not just for your country, but for the whole world. yeah, good, thank you. first of all, we are important i think for two big reasons. the first is brazil is one of the biggest emitters in the world because when we deforest, or burn the forest, there are big greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. the other thing is that the forest is important because, for many reasons,
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not only because trees capture and store carbon, but also because of the biodiversity — it's a huge treasure that we don't know what's there — and also for all the knowledge of these indigenous people, that i mentioned before. so it's important for brazil — for instance, the tropical forest has a very important role...to rain. and the rain is important for our country, for the countries that neighbour us like argentina or uruguay, and for the climate of the world. we are all connected. and wolfgang, daniela was talking about the global south and the issues there being different when it comes to climate change
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from the global north — what do you make of how journalists around the world are approaching climate change? you mentioned the news corp decision to change from a previously sceptical position with their mission zero 2050 statements? to daniela's pointjust now, this summer with the heatwaves in europe and the various floods, you often heard european politicians say that the climate crisis is real and it is here. and i always found it an odd thing to say, to understand in the context of national politics, but it's also another way of saying that we never quite looked at what's happening in africa, for instance. four of the world's five most hardest—hit countries from the effects of climate change are in africa, which happen to be countries that have done very little to contribute to climate change. so i think it's hugely important to see this as a global issue. yes, we experience it mostly locally in our neighbourhoods, but do not forget that.
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kate, you made an important point earlier when you asked natasha about how difficult it is to get a green story on the front page. that's exactly one of the questions that led me to my year of studying why it's so difficult to break through with climate journalism. 5—10 years ago, we had a shortage of climate journalists, just with the sheer amount of content. now there's quite a lot, but for some reason, it hardly ever makes it into the prime time news slot or on the front page, or the number—one spot on a website where you can still drive traffic. and what that touches upon is how we decide what is news and what isn't. and if you give me a minute, i looked into that question by asking news editors about by what criteria do they make that decision? and when you talk with them for a while, they say it's recency. "has itjust happened now?" the climate crisis always somehow gets worse in the future, so you could just as well cover it next week.
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so it gets filtered out for many days. second is geographic vicinity — is it happening here, close to my viewers or listeners? most times of the year, it is worse somewhere else — again, it rather gets filtered out. can i tell it as a people story or an event, or is it a rather slow— moving process? climate change is mostly a process — it gets filtered out again. is it simple enough to tell it in a quick news show, or do i need footnotes and explainer pages? the climate crisis is rather complicated. so the last criterion left is public interest — is it in the public interest even if it doesn't meet these other criteria? and that is the shift i see happening at news organisations now. i have friends in france who've said to all their 1,800 staff, "if you find a story where you have a financial aspect, if there is also a climate aspect, we want to see it." and that is a key shift that we will see across these organisations now. and daniela, you're actually facing particular challenges
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in brazil because, of course, there it's very highly politcised as an issue because of the policies of mr bolsonaro. and i wonder if that means being a journalist in brazil, it also means you feel you're an activist too, in a sense? so more and more young people, more and more people are interested in climate issues in brazil and in the amazon. i'm a journalist — i think activists are a different kind of, let's say, animal. i'm not an ngo journalist — if i was, i would be an activist also. but of course, this is our huge challenge in the world. so, yeah, i think the environment and climate, and things like that are important. and in this sense, my colleagues are activists. tom, do you think that climate change presents a challenge to the whole convention
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of journalistic objectivity? there will never be one day in which we can say, "climate change has happened!" it will always be, you know, ambiguous things. there'll be some heatwave in sub—saharan africa which kills some number of people — and is that climate change? probably, but there's no, sort of — and this is what will continue to happen, i think it'll be a real challenge for us over time. it'lljust be the world getting slightly worse in lots of little ways that you can't ever really specifically say, "this is climate change" — you always have to say, "ehh," and they'll always make it really hard to either have a big headline that says "climate change has done this," and also, it'll also be really hard to say, "we told you so, climate change has been happening," because it's always possible to attribute these things to chance. so that's part of it. and that ties into this idea ofjournalistic objectivity — of course, everything challenges journalistic
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objectivity. writing about socialjustice issues, anything like that. it's very hard... a lot ofjournalists would say we're not supposed to do that, we're supposed to be actively pushing for good beliefs and actions. i'm quite puritan about these things, and i think the job of the journalist is to say true things and to find out what is true, and do your best to persuade people that it is true. obviously there's a complicated a question about selecting what's important — it is true that i'm sitting at a table, i don't know how relevant that is to my readers — but that is the job of a journalist, to find out what's true and important, and tell people that, not to distort reality to achieve some political end. but also, i suppose, if you bill it an emergency, some people will disengage with it and feel it's too late to do anything? i do worry about that quite a lot.
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because, again, ijust read a piece in propublica about a guy having what seemed to be a psychological crisis about the coming climate change, and you read about people not having children. i'm sure there's lots of other factors in people's decisions about that stuff. but this sort of thing... it's a vexing question, whether or not telling people we're doomed will make them work harder to avoid doom, or make them go, "well, i might as well buy the suv and have that flight to greece, then." i think the reality, you know, that the central projections are that it will likely contribute to millions of deaths a year and cost trillions of dollars' worth of damage, and make life much harder — i think that reality is scary enough without having to say it's an existential threat that will destroy civilisation. natasha, you were nodding when tom was saying that — what were you agreeing with? it'sjust an interesting topic, really. -
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we're grappling at the sun- about how to make these issues relevant to our readers, _ and whether the doom—and—gloom narrative of climate change — which is obviously true, - you know, it's obviously something our readers. completely should be told j about and be involved in — whether that'll make them care about the issue any more. - i think it's a huge - issue that's completely up for debate. that's what i'm trying. to do with our reporting, do a mixture of reporting, - not just those doom—and—gloom climate change reports, - not just those how the world is burning and we actually have to do something now. - but show the opportunities that green can have, - that climate change can have. and also to save our readers . money, crucially, that's a good way to get people involved — by saying to them what - the benefits could be, - how this could be good for you, this could be - for your bank balance. i think that's why we're also trying to focus on the wider| consumer—led issues, - as well, because that gets
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readers really interested. things about whether they want to buy an electric car _ or replace their gas boiler with a heat pump — - these are all everyday things i that people can relate to more. even more, that's how to get people involved| with the climate crisis, - whether it's the food we eat or clothes we wear, all those things in our day—to—day, - and i think that's - what were trying to do across all the different - sections of the newspaper. it's notjust about news. 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's happening or not, but questioning science is a core part of science. it wasn't that long ago someone mentioned you'd have a discussion about climate change on tv, you'd have a sceptic booked alongside a scientist — clearly those days are past, and rightly past — but i can't member the last time i heard any sort of nuanced scientific dissent. is that a problem, do you think? well, i don't share that observation.
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i see quite a lot of scientific dissent — as there should be. doubt is a core feature of science, and some of the greatest scientific breakthroughs consist of overthrowing earlier certainties of other scientists. so i agree, and many scientists say to me that they really struggle with journalists wanting to get definitive answers from them. going back to the elephant in the room, at least in many newsrooms, the activism question — my personal view is that journalists should not resort to activism, and there's no need for it. but we need to give the topic the visibility it deserves in the public interest. what is more difficult to answer is, what is activism? a lot of activism i've seen consists of not reporting on the issue. i have to stop there because we've run out of time. that is it for today, thanks to all our guests. daniela chiaretti, natasha clark, tom chivers, and wolfgang blau. the media show will be back at the same time
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next week, but for now, thanks for listening. goodbye. hello there. after a day of sunshine and showers on monday, the weather on tuesday's going to look very different, and here's why. this cloud here in the atlantic is pushing in from the west, and that's bringing with it some outbreaks of rain. ahead of that, though, with some clearer skies, it will be a bit cooler across eastern scotland and eastern parts of england. but out to the west, it's milder to start the day with this rain around, some quite heavy rain, too. that rain shouldn't last long. in northern ireland, we'll see a spell of rain pushing eastwards through the morning across scotland and northern england, but the rain further south tends to become light and patchy. most of that rain will have cleared in the afternoon, leaving some drizzle around some western hills, but to the east of high ground, perhaps some sunshine,
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many places becoming dry in the afternoon. strong south—westerly winds, very mild day — temperatures 16—17 celsius, quite a bit warmer than it was on monday for the northern half of the uk. but there's still rain in the far northwest. that's on that weather front there, and that is going to move its way southwards overnight and into wednesday. it's going to hang around across some different parts of the uk during the day. all the while, though, we're pulling in air from a long way south, which is why it's so mild for late october. but there's some rain around, which is going to be quite heavy over some of the hills. that rain mainly affecting north wales, northwest england, could push back into parts of northern ireland, more especially into southern scotland. to the northwest, there will be some sunshine for a while and some showers, and to the south of our rain band, it should be brightening up. a little sun coming through, still windy, but very mild. temperatures up to 18 celsius. now, looking at the rain fall accumulation during wednesday and thursday, i want to highlight the areas that will see the heaviest of the rain.
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these are these bright colours here. it looks like it's going to be particularly wet in the southern uplands, but also into cumbria, and that could lead to some flooding. because that rain is still around on thursday, it may turn a bit drier across some northwestern parts of scotland and also northern ireland, as the rain just pivots into more of england and wales. through the midlands and much of eastern england, it's likely to still be dry, and with a bit of sunshine, those temperatures again reaching 18 celsius. so, a lot going on over the next few days or so. it's going to be quite windy. the winds, though, are going to be in from the south—west, which is why it'll be so mild, but as we've seen, there will be some rain around, mainly for the western side of the uk, and that will be heavy in the hills.
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welcome to bbc news — i'm david eades. our top stories. afghanistan is on a countdown to catastrophe, says the un, with millions facing starvation and despair. some are even selling their babies to buy food. even while we've been here another person came up to one of our team another person came up to one of ourteam and another person came up to one of our team and asked if we would like to buy their child. the desperation and the urgency of this situation is hard to put in words. in sudan — at least seven people have been killed and dozens are injured — as soldiers open fire on crowds protesting against the military coup. we reject it completely. we have to go back to the constitutional document that the government to be handed to
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civilians and you should free all those detained.

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