Vision for Improved Environmental News Coverage
As news organizations, professionals and other interested parties, we understand the critical role of the news media. We recognize that public environmental literacy is important now and will be increasingly more so given the challenges we face. We believe that:
- Journalism has a tremendous influence on the public’s environmental literacy. The nature and level of environmental news reporting is one of the most important influences on the perception and understanding of the environment, according to numerous studies.
- The public wants better and more environmental news. Seventy-nine percent of Americans think news coverage of the environment should be improved, according to an April 2012 poll conducted by Opinion Research Corp.
- The news media bridges the political divide on environmental issues. With the divisiveness that often occurs in politics, there is a danger of distorting and marginalizing environmental issues that are critical to our economy, health and quality of life. The news media can hold a bright spotlight on such issues and provide an unbiased analysis.
We are committed to improving our coverage of environmental issues and will endeavor to:
- Integrate the environmental angle into other stories and make that connection explicit. The environment affects or is affected by many areas of public interest including the economy, health, social issues and national security. Illuminating these connections dispels the belief that the environment can be separated from other issues or simply ignored.
- Make environmental stories appealing to a larger cross section of society. The technical or scientific nature of some environmental stories challenges understanding. Making the content accessible by relating it to other issues and reporting with clarity overcomes these barriers.
- Focus more on solutions. Including potential solutions makes environmental news stories less intimidating and more useful. Reporting them adds to the momentum for solving the environmental challenges we face.
- Increase the visibility of environmental stories. Limiting environmental stories to a special section or program suggests that the environment is a special interest rather than a public concern. This limits the likelihood of the consumption of important news. In fact, stories with an environmental focus comprise just 1 percent of the top stories, according to the Pew Center. Featuring environment-related headlines on front or home pages or as one of the top stories of a broadcast gives them greater visibility and helps to increase public awareness.
We understand the need for improved public environmental literacy and in the spirit of collaboration, we join others in supporting and advancing these goals.
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