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Pulitzer Center Update April 12, 2024

Climate and Environmental Journalism In Focus at Texas Christian University

Christian Science Monitor Weekly magazine cover art from November 6, 2023, featuring images from the Climate Generation series of youth from across the world and an illustration with gears representing activism, science, et cetera, as efforts to combat climate change.

From the Global South to the Canadian Arctic, the Climate Generation is transforming everything from...

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Stephanie Hanes presents to a classroom
Christian Science Monitor environment reporter Stephanie Hanes in an introductory journalism class. Image by Ethan Widlansky. United States, 2024.

“Journalism is the mission of being present,” Stephanie Hanes, a Pulitzer Center grantee and environment reporter for The Christian Science Monitor, told students at Texas Christian University (TCU). “Showing up and giving someone your full, curious, and unconditional attention” is a rare gift, she said, one increasingly commodified by our digital devices. 

Hanes—who co-authored The Climate Generation, a Christian Science Monitor series focusing on youth climate activism—toured a student newsroom, lectured in two classes, and joined a symposium on climate misinformation on March 24 and 25, 2024. She asked introductory journalism students to consider “how our values shape what is news.” 

Hanes encouraged them to follow-up their questions with partial answers that can lead to more questions. “You have a theory of what the story is going to be, and then you report, and then what people tell you makes you re-evaluate your theory, and then you report some more.” 

Hanes said she learns most when she occupies a space of not knowing. 

“I do not have to be the expert [...] hopefully I’ve done enough to understand what is true or not.” Hanes assured students that “people really like talking about themselves and what they love often,” including—or especially—esoteric research. 

On March 25, Hanes joined Michael Slattery, chair and director of TCU's Institute for Environmental Studies, and Evelyn Mayo, co-chair of the board of environmental group Downwinders at Risk, at a symposium. TCU journalism professor Patty Zamarripa moderated. 


Evelyn Mayo, Stephanie Hanes, Michael Slattery, journalism professor Uche Onyebadi, and Patty Zamarripa
From the left: Evelyn Mayo, Stephanie Hanes, Michael Slattery, journalism professor Uche Onyebadi, and Patty Zamarripa. Image by Ethan Widlansky. United States, 2024.
Stephanie Hanes presents to a room of students
Image by Ethan Widlansky. United States, 2024.

“Climate change gives us an opportunity to see ourselves in a global context,” said Hanes. “Scale” can be “overwhelming,” she said, but “all of these individual moves that young people and older people are doing [to fight climate change], although they feel very small, amount to large cultural forces.” 

“[Climate change] is not a problem; it’s a transition. It’s not a sprint; it’s a march,” Slattery said. 

“It could be a blooming, it could be a metamorphosis, and that’s right where we are and that requires creativity,” Hanes said. 

These changes must be thought of, said Slattery, in the context of energy demand, which is projected to grow by about one-third to three-quarters by 2050, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. Not all, or even most, of it will come from renewable sources. 

Thinking of climate change as a problem to be solved can isolate its economic, ecological, technological, and cultural impacts. Mayo, who works in housing and climate justice in Dallas, described how the carbon economy shaped her work: “Fear of displacement is so great in a place like Dallas, people will say, ‘I’d rather keep the industry here [...] to keep people from moving in” and teetering over a so-called gentrification cliff. For her, “climate change” is a “lens applied” to local issues. 

In Hanes’ reporting, which sent her to Portugal, Montana, and Barbados, she observed a “re-evaluation of what younger people imagined as a good life. What progress meant for them.” She noted that climate change denialism is especially popular in the United States. 

Slattery said that in island nations like Tuvalu, “they are not debating whether climate change is real. They’re living it every day.” 

“Conversations [about climate change skepticism],” said Hanes, “are important, and then other due diligence is important, and then [there are] [...] perspectives that really don’t hold up against the bulk of scientific knowledge.” She cautioned, however, against “climate cancel culture,” which can label good-faith science that challenges or augments existing hypotheses as denialism. 

“I think there is no reason to stop trying,” Hanes said on meeting the emissions objectives outlined in the Paris climate agreement and the annual Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. “There’s no choice. What’s your alternative here? [...] It’s not like you get to 1.5 and you fall off, we’re done.” 

Panelists encouraged the audience to follow vetted climate news from outlets like the BBC, The New York Times, and The Christian Science Monitor

After the event, journalism professor Uche Onyebadi announced TCU’s two 2024 Reporting Fellows: Lys Marquez, who will report on the NBA Academy in Mexico, and Ella Gonzales, who will report on Ukrainian refugees in Poland. 

Onyebadi organized the symposium.


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