This week Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp is hosting its 19th annual Weather Summit.
Steamboat Springs That's the headline New York Times Science Editor Andrew Revkin says you will never see in his newspaper.
If it were that simple for the media to report on global warming and climate change, Revkin likely would not have been invited to speak to a group of television meteorologists at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel on Wednesday.
More than 30 people are attending the 19th annual Weather Summit, hosted this week by Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. The conference attracts meteorologists working for some of the largest TV markets in the country, including The Weather Channel and CNN. A variety of scientists, researchers and other experts present information during the morning sessions, while in the afternoons, conference attendees produce pieces for their home stations. With a Steamboat Springs backdrop, the segments are either beamed back to the stations to be played later, or a satellite truck enables live broadcasts.
The subject of global warming is coming up frequently in those broadcasts, because the schedule for this year's Weather Summit is packed with discussions about climate change.
"It's more the focus this year than it's ever been before," said Glen Gerberg, a program coordinator for the Weather Summit. "It's about helping these people to understand the best way to communicate climate change."
Revkin, who has been reporting on the environment for The Times since 1995, was unable to attend the conference in person, so he spoke with attendees using Web video conferencing. His session was titled "How the Media Covers the Climate Change Issue."
In some ways, Revkin said, it is unreasonable to think that media outlets alone should have to shoulder the responsibility of keeping people informed about climate change issues, because of challenges such as a lack of on-the-spot timeliness. In journalism lingo, the stories lack a "news hook."
"You'll never see a day when you pick up the New York Times and the headline says 'Global warming happens today,'" Revkin said. "Climate change rarely has a news hook."
Small space, big story
Another hurdle for print and broadcast media is the limited amount of column space or broadcasting minutes to explain the basics of climate change, Revkin said.
"You have this issue of starting from bedrock for every story," he said. "To write an effective story, you need a lot of room."
Revkin said the media is getting a lot of the blame for "failing to move this (global warming) story forward."
Revkin himself receives the criticism despite writing 400 stories related to global warming since 2000. He said maybe the stories just are not getting the prominent placement that some people think they deserve.
"I really can't blame my editors for doing their jobs," Revkin said.
CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano cited another challenge that journalists face when tackling complex issues such as global warming. Present a fact that goes against one of the popular environmental movements, and Marciano said the backlash can be extreme.
"You get crucified as something political that you may not be," he said. "Controversy is good, but you put your career at risk. That's the struggle that we have."
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