a page-one editorial by its distinguished editor, Alan Rusbridger, announcing its intention to devote considerable reporting resources, and a major portion of its Friday homepage, to climate change issues. Rusbridger attributes this change in priority, if not policy exactly, to his own conscience, as he prepares to retire, and to the bleak prospect, in the absence of substantial interventions, of a future--quoting a scientific source--“incompatible with any reasonable characterisation of an organised, equitable and civilised global community.” Strong words.
Rusbridger interestingly notes the difficulties for news media in covering the future, in reporting on events "in the realm of prediction, speculation and uncertainty," as he puts it. That The Guardian is advancing with its climate change coverage despite this impediment is one more mark of its journalistic courage--but also a salutary warning for the rest of us. I have complained in previous posts of the scanty coverage given to COP 21 events in the New York Times, which seems to have no dedicated reporter for this topic and relies on fragmentary dispatches from Reuters and the AP. This omission from the newspaper of record contributes to a failure of awareness that is particularly damaging in what is far-and-away the world's most carbon-polluting nation (per capita).
Elsewhere I observe that Le Monde gives COP 21 particular coverage, as France assumes its responsibilities as host to the conference. The mayor of Paris, Ann Hidalgo, along with the regional president for Seine-St.-Denis, the actual site of the conference, are planning a full calendar of events from now till the end of the year, which should guarantee substantial coverage in France's lively press. But what about the rest of us? Will, for example, the Hindustan Times treat COP 21 (and its government's recalcitrance) as a major story? How about Xinhua or the China News Service?
The Guardian has set a high standard by committing to this level of coverage. Let's hope the rest of the news industry feels challenged to follow its lead.