What does Climate Change have to do with Journalism and Ethics?

And what are ethics?

Journalism ethics or ‘code of ethics,’ comprise of principles and good practices as applicable to the specific challenges faced by journalists daily. Two large fundamental principles of journalism are respect for the truth and the public’s right to information.


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What does this have to do with Climate Change?
Journalists have a huge responsibility when it come to covering issues as critical and expansive as climate change. What makes this so difficult is the huge cloud of uncertainty that the world views Climate Change in. Rather than covering climate change as a very real and probably catastrophe, many media outlets are still debating over whether or not it exists or not. This lack of urgency regarding climate change reporting is scary considering the fact that every year that passes is another year that makes our lack of action more costly and more difficult.

This brings with it the question:
Don’t individual journalists have a moral obligation to report climate change? They have an obligation to do everything in their power to report and to warn the public.

Wen Stephenson, a former editor and senior producer in the US, is a journalist who believes the media has failed in its moral duty to mobilise action against Climate Change. He wrote: “It’s time to end the self-censorship and get over the idea that journalists are somehow above the fray. You’re not above the fray. If you’re a human being, you’re in the fray whether you like it or not – because on this one, we really are all in it together. And by downplaying or ignoring the severity of the climate crisis – or by simply failing to understand it – you’re abdicating your responsibility to your fellow human beings.”

However, this raised certain questions.
Does the media really have a moral obligation to report climate change? How different are morals and ethics? Are journalists are letting us, and future generations down?
Required Reading:
– Journalism ethics and climate change reporting in a period of intense media uncertainty
– Climate Refugees or Migrants? Contesting Media Frames on Climate Justice in the Pacific

Additional Reading:
– A Question of Ethics
– Journalists and Climate Change
– Climate Change: How to report the story of the Century
– What Journalists and Media can do
– Understanding Climate Change

Until next time,



Peace Journalism vs. War Journalism

The developments in the reporting of war  has played a crucial role in raising critical debate on conflict and war coverage. Research has revealed a bias nature towards violence on the news which is associated with war journalism.  War Journalism is journalism about conflict that has a value bias towards violence and violent groups, focusing only on physical effects of conflict and elite positions.

Peace Journalism aims to correct these biases. It is a,  ‘programme or frame of journalistic news coverage which contributes to the process of making and keeping peace respectively to the peaceful settlement of conflicts,’ whose operational definition is ‘to allow opportunities for society at large to consider and value non-violent responses to conflict.’ (Lynch and McGoldrick).



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Johan Galtung, Peace Professor and Director of TRANSCEND Peace and Development Network, first began using the term ‘Peace Journalism’ in the 1970s, developing these two opposing modes of reporting wars. It is a constructive response to the problem of news reporting in today’s world that relies heavily on elite and bias sources, along with violent and inflammatory elements. It puts into question the current portrayal of wars by the media.

Galtung created this table to further highlight the difference between the two journalistic approaches:

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This table is part of a network of teachings that aim to educate both journalists and the public alike, in the ways to go about peace journalism. These teachings aim to urge more critical and creative thinking regarding the reporting of war and conflict throughout the war, especially during a time where continuous economic and political pressures are continuously causing the manipulation of our news. These ‘editors and reporters make choices – that create opportunities for society at large to consider and value non-violent responses to conflict.’ Examples of those around the world who have taken up the support of Peace journalism are:
– Media Peace Centre, South Africa
– Media Peace Price in Australia, run by UNA Australia.
– Peace Journalism exhibit at Peace Museum, Caen, Franc
– Peace Journalist taught by Media NGO LSPP, backed by AJI, the Independent Journalists’ Association in Indonesia, etc.

Despite how idealistic peace journalism sounds, there are specific criticisms aimed at the concept and objectives of peace journalism. These criticisms revolve around the definition of ‘objectivity,’ and the compromised integrity of journalists who confuse themselves as neutral disseminators (David Loyn). The reality of peace journalism is a more controversial concept that has yet to achieve wide mainstream acceptance beyond that of journalistic and social movement.

I’ll leave you with this question,
Would the adoption of Peace Journalism by the mainstream media have contributed to hinder conflicts in the world (Vietnam, Iraq)?
Required Reading:
A conciliatory medium in a conflict-driven environment?

Peace Journalism. What is it? How to do it?
Peace Journalism: A Needed, Desirable and Practicable Reform
Peace Journalism and Boko Haram

Until next time,