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Digital guide offers journalists jump start on climate adaptation story

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Digital guide offers journalists jump start on climate adaptation story

For editors trying to get a handle on the high-profile United Nations climate talks underway in Paris through Dec. 11, one lesser-told story holds a key to understanding the summit’s success or failure. The story is climate adaptation, that is, how society prepares for sea-level rise, extreme weather, drought and other expected impacts of climate change.

Adaptation is central to the Paris talks, which are focused not just on reducing the emissions causing global warming to begin with, but also on the degree to which richer nations agree to help finance poorer ones ready themselves for those risks.

So, to give journalists a leg up on the adaptation story, our U.S. journalism body has issued a new reporter’s guide to the climate adaptation. The free digital guide, produced by the Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) at the University of Missouri, can be found at, or The heart of the Reporter’s Guide is its resource database, which organizes an annotated collection of more than 200 key adaptation resources so that reporters can immediately ID the sources that can lead them to stories.

A fast-read format provides a quick overview of each source, as well as detailed information on how journalists can use it. Each source is then sorted into one or several of more than 30 categories covering half-a-dozen specific types of climate risks, 18 areas of policy responses and 11 global regions. Reporters can also sort information based on how current the information is and by whether it is from government, academic, advocacy or media sources.

For those newer to the adaptation issue, the Reporter’s Guide also offers the equivalent of a beat memo. Users will find a series of backgrounders, an animated explainer, suggested story angles and reporting case studies designed to help sort out the issue.

“Climate adaptation is an emerging and important story not just for environmental reporters, but for those covering business, politics, local news, even sports,” said RJI Executive Director Randy Picht. Until now, information about adaptation hasn’t been well organized for newsrooms, added Picht. “We’ve created this guide so journalists can all find the information and sources they need to get up to speed on the topic.”

This is a guest post by A. Adam Glenn, Executive Producer of the Reporter’s Guide to Climate Adaptation. In 2013, he launched AdaptNY, an experimental digital news service to improve coverage of how New York is adapting to climate change. He is also an editor for the quarterly journal of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Professor in digital journalism and social media at the Cuny Graduate School of Journalism. @AAdamGlenn 


WAN-IFRA External Contributor


2015-12-08 15:42

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