Collaborative climate news site launches

The Climate DeskToday marks the launch of The Climate Desk, a collaboration between seven news organizations dedicated to exploring the impact of a changing climate. The partners are Wired, The Atlantic, Center for Investigative Reporting, Grist, Mother Jones, Slate and PBS’s new public-affairs show Need to Know.

The site is principally funded by two foundations: The Surdna Foundation and the Park Foundation, both of which have a long history of funding journalism on energy and environmental policy.

The Climate Desk’s first offerings include an article by Clive Thompson that explores companies that are cashing in on global warming, and Rachel Morris on the coming tide of transnational climate lawsuits.

Here’s a few QnA’s from The Climate Desk’s “About us” page.

Q: Why collaborate on a project about the climate?

A: Because even though it’s a fascinating and important story, it hasn’t been told very well.

Q: Why not?

A: There are four main reasons: 1) Climate change is slow-moving, vast, and overwhelming for news organizations to grapple with. 2) What coverage there is tends to be fractured and compartmentalized—science, technology, politics, and business aspects are covered by different teams, or “desks” of reporters, despite the intrinsic connections. 3) Coverage is too often fixated on imperiled wildlife, political gamesmanship, or the “debate” over the existence of climate change, all at the expense of advancing the bigger story—how we’re going to address, mitigate, or adapt to it. 4) Cuts to news organizations are making matters worse.

Q: Why does your first series of stories focus on how businesses are adapting to a changing climate?

A: We felt it was an underreported topic, and the rich journalistic terrain would give us a great vantage point from which to explore future story ideas. Businesses are increasingly forced to address the risks and opportunities of climate change. They will also drive much of the innovation that could help solve it. Going forward, we plan to look at the question of adaptation in a broader sense, and beyond that we’ll go wherever a good story leads us.

Q: Could that include problems with climate science or with advocacy groups?

A: Absolutely. Our only dogma is good journalism.

Q: So what’s the advantage to collaborating?

A: For one thing, more hands on deck and more outlets mean we can do more coverage, bringing our various strengths and audiences to bear. For another, given the transformation of the media business, collaboration seems to be part of the future of journalism. We want to test out a new kind of distributed journalism—bringing together a group of reporting shops to brainstorm, assign, and share coverage. Already, this process has enriched our own understanding of the issue, and that can only be a benefit to our readers.