To be charitable, coverage in the traditional media of the 18th U.N. climate change conference being held in Doha, Qatar, has been...uh...sparse. Not completely nonexistent, but you have to dig.
What ought to be on the front page every day or lead the evening news gets buried. And what there is barely gives readers or viewers a sense of the affair. That may well be because their viewers and readers don't want to hear anything about it, just as our politicians don't want to do anything about it. Or it may be because the big cheeses at these venues are reluctant to do possible damage to their advertising base, already under multiple stressors.
The failure to pay attention to a 194-nation conference that—whatever its flaws—is addressing what can be done about the most unarguably important issue of our era is incredibly frustrating.
But good coverage can be found outside the traditional media.
Top of the list is Amy Goodman of Democracy Now. She's been working the conference all week, with multiple segments each day. On Wednesday, here was her line-up:
Among the several segments on Tuesday was:
And on Monday:
Since Al Jazeera is owned by Qatar and headquartered there, you would expect the television channel to be providing extensive coverage of the conference, and it is. The same high-quality coverage that long-time viewers have come to expect. You can access all their coverage via this link, both video and text.
A couple of good choices from that link:
Grist, the Seattle-based eco-website that rightly labels itself as a "Beacon in the Smog" doesn't have the budget to provide a full plate of coverage of Doha, but it makes up for it by covering climate change matters year-round.
The team at the six-year-old Climate Progress, which, as its name would suggest, covers the subject extensively, has sprinkled stories about Doha throughout its usual first-rate daily collection of several original stories on climate change under the guiding hand of Joe Romm. If you're interested in the subject at all and you haven't bookmarked the Climate Progress site, you're missing reporting and analysis that deserves your attention:
• TckTckTck keeps up a steady stream of short takes via Storify.
The Huffington Post with its fat budget and entire section devoted to "Green" has used the wire services for its coverage in Doha. And none of that has made it to the Home page.
Some other websites that are giving some coverage to Doha:
It's Getting Hot In Here: Dispatches from the Youth Climate Movement and Youth Climate.org:
The World Resources Institute has done a few stories.
So has the Guardian's environmental blog.
In 1989, I was newly arrived at the Los Angeles Times and was on my lunch hour reading my spanking new copy of a book called The End of Nature by a guy named Bill McKibben. At the time plans were being made for the 20th anniversary and resurrection of Earth Day, with Denis Hayes, my old boss from the Solar Energy Research Institute, at the helm. The work of McKibben and Hayes spurred me to push the Times to put together a weekly package of original environmental articles to sell to newspapers and magazines around the world.
It took some cajoling. But it was a time when newspapers were still vibrant, economically viable concerns, and Earth Day pushed quite a few into adding or assigning staff members to the eco-beat and adding pages or entire sections on the subject. My bosses saw $$. Thus was born Earth Matters, a project that lasted until the Times and its sister operations were bought by Tribune Media a decade later.
Newspapers (much less television) have long since ceased to make the environment a topic that gets more than sporadic coverage. The news that has been coming out in the past few years ought to have changed that, ought to have sent editors into daily wrangling over which environmental story, whether about climate change or some other matter, gets the choicest front page slot. Instead, we get more coverage of the pregnancy of the Duchess of Cambridge in two days than we do of acid oceans in a year. That surely makes Exxon, Shell, the Koch brothers and all the other purveyors of lies about climate change quite pleased that their propaganda-and-smear campaign has so little competition from media that should long ago have exposed them.