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Climate Chats #1: Eva Constantaras


Climate Chats #1: Eva Constantaras

Picture of Fleur Leijte
Fleur Leijte — Project manager
September 06, 2023

How to tell an award-winning climate story?

Leading up to our News Impact Summit on Elevating Climate Journalism this autumn, we talk to those joining us in Lisbon. What role does journalism play in addressing and tackling climate change, and why is this conversation so important?

Eva Constantaras Data journalist and trainer

Eva Constantaras answers the call from rainy Chiang Mai, Thailand, where she is working on an environmental investigation for Lighthouse Reports. As an investigative data journalist, Eva uses her expertise to set up data teams in newsrooms in the Global South and works with them to improve their in-depth and explanatory reporting on inequality and environmental topics. She is part of our team of jury members for the Climate Journalism Award. The winners of the Award will be announced during our News Impact Summit in Lisbon on 12 October.

Don’t preach to the converted

Data can be used to reach the audiences we need to reach. According to Eva, too much climate journalism is focused on preaching to the converted. We can no longer afford to produce climate coverage just for the people who already agree that climate change is threatening our existence. She believes that two very important audiences have been left out.

The first are vulnerable communities most impacted by climate change, which often do not have good access to media, and definitely not to in-depth and data-driven coverage. The second is climate sceptics, who might be the most difficult audience to reach as they are not inclined to read climate-related coverage.

The 4 angles of a good data-driven climate story

Overall, Eva senses a reluctance amongst journalists to cover climate stories. News fatigue is an issue across all audiences. This is why she thinks macro-stories about ‘how the world is doomed’ are not productive.

As journalists, we are used to covering events while they are happening, but environmental issues like forest fires are not news anymore. The news is about the places where the fires are prevented. We need more in-depth and explanatory stories on effective regulations and policies. Doomsday data-driven coverage might be easier, but it is not productive.

-- Eva Constantaras

This is also why she recognises the importance of celebrating outstanding data-driven coverage through our Climate Award. When judging the applications, Eva uses 4 criteria:

  • The problem: How is the problem measured? Does the story only cover recent developments, or is there a deep dive into the underlying factors that contributed to the problem?
  • The communities: Are the directly impacted communities involved in the story?
  • The audience: Who is this story for? Is it only aimed at ‘the converted’, or can this story reach the harder-to-reach audiences?
  • The solutions: Does the story also include solutions? Is data used to show the audience what governments and stakeholders are doing to tackle the issue?

Eva believes that, when it comes to climate stories, people need an explanatory context that helps them understand what is happening in their communities. By focusing on these 4 angles, journalists can start moving away from the traditional ‘global doomsday’ narratives and focus instead on localised and community-driven narratives.

Registration for the News Impact Summit in Lisbon is still open. Register and save your spot now.


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