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January 03 2012

15:27

41pc decline: Climate coverage down again in 2011

What you can read matters! - Would be interesting to understand why coverage has so substantially declined. Maybe the stories are not the best context for ads and the business pressure is too high. Maybe we were "simply" overwhelmed by other major incidents last year. Maybe it's not really a traffic booster for online news sites. Or people don't want to read about developments which they think can't be influenced.

The Daily Climate :: Climate change dropped even further from the world's headlines and newscasts last year. Weird weather, Australia's carbon tax and Solyndra fracas weren't enough to stem a decline that started in 2009. Last year at least 7,140 journalists and opinion writers published some 19,000 stories on climate change, compared to more than 11,100 reporters who filed 32,400 stories in 2009, according to DailyClimate.org.

[Robert Brulle, Drexel University, Philadelphia:] People take their cues about what's important from what shows up in the headline of the newspaper. It doesn't matter really what (the articles) say.

Continue to read Douglas Fischer, wwwp.dailyclimate.org

March 21 2011

07:30

Repubblica.it’s experiment with “Investigative reporting on demand”

Repubblica.it's experiment with

Alessandra Bonomolo reports on an Italian experiment to involve readers in investigative journalism.

Whether investigative journalism should be considered “dead” or “alive”, it still proves to be a topical issue able to engage readers by only mentioning its name.

Italian Repubblica.it, the online edition of the daily la Repubblica, has launched an investigative reporting “on demand” initiative. After the first three releases, the idea seems to be succeeding, with thousands of readers responding.

Every month, the online community is asked to choose an issue for reporters to investigate, among an array of options – all related to the environment. “Environment is a strategic editorial issue for us”, says Giuseppe Smorto co-editor of Repubblica.it.

The shortlist of options is drawn up by Repubblica’s correspondents. Most of the issues strongly affect a specific geographical community. Others may include follow-ups on big events in the past, such as the Winter Olympics held in Turin in 2006.

Although they are not all “nationwide and very appealing topics”, Repubblica considers the initiative as part of “an investment in the relation with the readership”. As the investigations are expected to mostly interest local communities, the proximity factor appears to play its part in the initiative’s good response. But, according to Giuseppe Smorto, the editorial focus remains on the environmental aspects.

The readers’ investigations are published both as online articles and videos. Such coverage clearly increases the costs for the news organisation, but it is seen as “an effective way to diversify the product for its final use (computer, smartphone or tablet) in order to reach out to more people”.

Unlike other outlets, Repubblica.it is not engaging its readers in the investigation itself (for instance, by asking them for tips like the Washington Post). Rather, the “investigation on demand” project involves readers in the editorial process, by choosing the topic of the investigation.

This strategy echoes another initiative of the website. Every day, Repubblica Domani broadcasts the morning editorial meeting, opening to the public the doors of their newsroom.

“This is a most advanced form of interaction with the readership”, says the online co-editor. But having readers participating in the editorial process implies that journalists also make their own investigative process open to the public. Should the original hypothesis not be verified by the facts, the reader will see an unexpected conclusion. Potentially, they will even read an investigation with no case at all, which can lead to disappointment.

“This comes with the imperative of transparency and verification”, says environment correspondent Antonio Cianciullo. The newspaper’s investigation into a controversial pollution case concluded, for example, that measures have been eventually put in place and now the situation is under control.

Given the response with the environmental “on demand” investigations, Repubblica says the initiative may be replicated in other sectors.

March 25 2010

10:21

Complaint to PCC raises further criticism of Sunday Times’ environment coverage

According to a report in the Guardian yesterday, Simon Lewis, an expert on tropical on forests at the University of Leeds, has filed a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) about an article in the Sunday Times.

The article published on 31 January, which alleged that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had made mistakes in a report on global warming, was “inaccurate, misleading and distorted”, according to Lewis, who says he contacted the newspaper before the story was published and has since written letters and tried to leave comments on the website.

Questions have been raised by several bloggers over the Sunday Times’ environmental coverage – particularly following reports that the title had been banned from receive pre-publication releases from some scientific journals for breaking embargoes.

The article at the heart of Lewis’ complaint and those that resulted in bans for the Sunday Times from PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) and JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) were written by Jonathan Leake, who recently responded on blog Embargo Watch, saying he was unconcerned about the bans:

As you can see, these press officers have claimed they have banned us from their embargo system but this is rather misleading because we have a policy of not signing up to these embargo systems. Since we are not part of them we can hardly be banned. The press officers in question do know our position and I would suggest their statements are knowingly misleading.

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