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2021 Covering Climate Now Awards

Al Roker and Savannah Sellers hosted the inaugural Covering Climate Now Journalism Awards on October 6, 2021. (Photo: Covering Climate Now/screenshot)

New Climate Journalism Awards Honor Chroniclers of the 'Defining Story of Our Time'

Covering Climate Now recognizes members of the media who "are leading the way, showing us all how to cover a story that is increasingly shaping the future."

Brett Wilkins

As the winners of the inaugural Covering Climate Now Journalism Awards were announced Wednesday evening, environmental campaigners hailed the new prizes for elevating journalists who chronicle one of the world's most crucial news stories—but one critics say is woefully underreported by U.S. corporate media.

Covering Climate Now (CCNow) is a collaborative effort co-founded by Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) and The Nation and joined by hundreds of partner outlets including Common Dreams.

On Wednesday, CCNow announced the 12 winners, "including print reporters and photojournalists, digital, television and radio journalists, as well as podcasters and commentators... selected from nearly 600 entries submitted from 38 countries."

At a special ceremony Wednesday, hosts Al Roker and Savannah Sellers honored the awardees, who ranged from the producers of a podcast examining the impacts of global heating on Indigenous Alaskan communities, to a Bangladeshi photojournalist documenting the effects of rising seas, to the authors of a ProPublica report chronicling climate-driven migration.

CJR editor and publisher Kyle Pope said: "Our goal in starting Covering Climate Now was to cultivate more and better journalism on climate change. These winners are leading the way, showing us all how to cover a story that is increasingly shaping the future."

Climate campaigners decry the scant time corporate media outlets spend covering the climate emergency. For example, a study analyzing climate coverage on major networks' nightly news and Sunday morning political programs by the watchdog group Media Matters for America found that "overall coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox Broadcasting Co.'s 'Fox News Sunday' fell from an already dismal 0.7% in 2019 to 0.4% in 2020."

Julie Hollar of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) wrote earlier this year that "if we have any hope of addressing the climate crisis, journalists have to move beyond debating its existence or importance, and start looking at both its causes—very concretely, looking at culprits—and its solutions."

CCNow executive director and The Nation's environment correspondent Mark Hertsgaard said the winners of the new awards demonstrate that "the media's climate silence has unmistakably ended as journalists rise to the challenge of telling the defining story of our time."

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