Pulitzer Center Update

Jon Sawyer on Supporting the Most Challenging Beat: Climate Change

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A dive into the deep sea illuminates a world full of possibilities for both discoveries of extraordinary life and opportunities for exploitation. Image by Sarah Fahmy. Hawaii, 2016.

A dive into the deep sea illuminates a world full of possibilities for both discoveries of extraordinary life and opportunities for exploitation. Image by Sarah Fahmy. Hawaii, 2016.

As Michael Blanding explains in his recent feature for Nieman Reports, climate change is notoriously difficult to cover and thus chronically underreported in today’s media. After reviewing the unique challenges reporters face when covering climate, he notes innovative solutions to the coverage gap and highlights the Pulitzer Center’s dedication to the topic.

Blanding praises the Pulitzer Center for supporting over 50 projects that cover the impact of climate change on lives around the world. In the last two months alone, the Pulitzer Center has helped climate change stories reach publications like VICENature, Mother Jones, and National Geographic.

Not only do the publications reach a large and diverse readership, the Pulitzer Center’s education team presents the reporting in classrooms across the country. By bringing journalists and their stories to schools, the Pulitzer Center can educate students before they are exposed to more political and divisive coverage of climate change. 

“They are more or less neutral spaces where you can engage people who have maybe not made up their minds,” says Jon Sawyer, executive director of the Pulitzer Center. “There is a lot of disinformation and distortion out there, with large segments of society being inundated with sources telling them climate change is not an issue.”

Looking forward, the Pulitzer Center will give additional funding to projects that include innovative techniques aimed at extending the reporting’s audience. This includes creative uses of data visualization and social media videos. Throughout his article, Blanding urges other journalists to cover climate change with similar “urgency and creativity.”

In 2009, the Pulitzer Center launched a searchable database that aggregates all grantee reporting about climate change. It features several innovative and comprehensive projects such as Dan Grossman’s in-depth reporting on global warming in France, southern Africa, Bangladesh, and India.

Although our climate change projects span the world, they all focus on those affected and science. As the Pulitzer Center explains, “Global warming is doing more than simply making things a little warmer. It's changing rainfall, causing heat waves, and making sea level rise, all of which create human suffering.”