Yale Climate Media Forum (11/08 Update)

Change.

It’s everywhere one goes nowadays, with the term in effect having short-handed for the successful campaign of President-elect Barack Obama.

Any new administration in Washington inevitably leads to change. This one’s no exception, and many clearly anticipate it may lead to even more, and deeper, changes than most other changes in White House occupants.

We’ll see.

In the meantime, the term “change” carries its own meaning for those dealing with the climate. The change there no doubt will be, has been, more incremental. But certainly no less significant or – Caution ahead: a word I’ve sworn never to use – “impactful.”

There’s another kind of change that more than deserves recognition here.

It’s the change(s) rippling through the nation’s newsrooms each day, as pink slips replace the red and blue electoral maps as the hallmark of many news organizations.

One day the esteemed Christian Science Monitor announces it is for all practical purposes eliminating its print edition. A few days later US News & World Report says it too is going out of the dead-trees business model and instead will resort to its online version.

Things could be worse. And may yet be.

Journalism listserves are abuzz not just with the challenges and opportunities imminent with the new people and policies soon to take over the national political scene. They are abuzz also with talk of the increasingly empty chairs and cubicles and carrels formerly home to this or that “downsized” journalist.

The nature of U.S. public policy and political solutions aimed at addressing climate issues is certain to change, and most likely quite dramatically, over coming months. Despite some concern over abrupt climate change – an issue, by the way, addressed at some length in the November 11, 2008, update to this publication – that change in policy is at least certain to greatly outpace the more long-term changes we expect to see in our climate.

Whether the changes in Washington and in international climate negotiations outpace the ongoing changes in myriad newsrooms and in countless individual reporters’ career trajectories and lives … all that remains uncertain.

For now, the forecast is clear, albeit not necessarily sunny. Media committed to covering climate change in the most responsible and most informed ways in coming months and years will have changes near to their work, afar in Washington, D.C., and at a global scale to reckon with.

No one ever said it would be easy. Surely, it won’t be.

Bud Ward

Bud Ward is editor of The Yale Forum (E-mail: bud@yaleclimatemediaforum.org).
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