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.


(Image found here)


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,



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