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Covering climate change: What reporters get wrong and how to get it right

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Journalist's Resource


May 29, 2018

Before she was a journalist, Elizabeth Arnold spent several seasons fishing salmon commercially in her home state of Alaska. In 1985, she began reporting for Juneau’s NPR member station KTOO, covering local environmental and political stories. From 1991 to 2006, she served as a political correspondent out of NPR’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she covered campaigns, Congress and the White House

She later returned to Alaska to teach journalism at the University of Alaska and focus on environmental reporting through Arctic Profiles. Through the project, which is funded in part by the National Park Service, Arnold produces “intimate portraits of people making a difference within Beringia,” a region currently experiencing dramatic effects of climate change that includes Alaska and parts of Russia and Canada.

It’s a window into Arnold’s broader approach as a proponent of solutions journalism – reporting stories on how people are responding to problems in meaningful ways.

In the spring of 2018, she spent a semester at Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center as a Joan Shorenstein fellow, researching the media’s role in communicating climate change and its effects. In an interview with Journalist’s Resource, Arnold highlighted how reporters following their instincts might contribute to public apathy about climate change, and how they can adopt a solutions approach to improve their coverage of the subject.



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