Hertsgaard’s challenge to his profession

Melbourne trams pump out heat in noisy blasts. I was reading “The media are complacent while the world burns,” three months old now, by Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope. I normally wouldn’t find general media issues interesting but I knew Hertsgaard from a nuclear book he wrote years ago. And the article’s title was, after all, correct.

Hertsgaard and Pope cite an editor at The Nation dismissing climate change as a “palpable ratings killer.” Now “the brutal demands of ratings and money work against coverage of the biggest story of our time.” The two journalists have launched a project for reporters to “remember their Paul Revere responsibilities – to awaken, inform, an d rouse the people to action.” To a non-American, this call to action seems most notable for even needing to exist, but there you have it.

H & P praise the Guardian, Mooney, and some of The New York Times, but it seems the TV networks are a wasteland. They offer nine suggestion for media to lift its game to the European standard, including (I nearly wept when I spotted this one) “learn the science”! (How to do that? H & P: read McKibben, Klein, Wallace-Stevens, Goodell). Also: “cover the solutions” – my heart leapt. Finally: “don’t be afraid to point fingers.”

How then do I respond to Hertsgaard’s final clarion call – if American journalism doesn’t get the climate story right – and soon – no other story will matter: – in my own life? Well, I’ll read and support truthfulness. And 15 Cranes in the Anthropocene is my writing-based attempt to be truthful and helpful.