Digital Climate Newsletters: The New Alternative for Climate Journalism?

February 29, 2024 by Kiran Champatsingh

Professor Hanna E. Morris recently published her book/essay chapter "Digital Climate Newsletters: The New Alternative for Climate Journalism?" in the The Palgrave Handbook of Everyday Digital Life.

In U.S. climate journalism, there is a consistent exclusion of historically marginalized people and perspectives from stories on the climate crisis. Issues of climate justice and equity are repeatedly sidestepped or superficially engaged with in favour of more sensational stories of climate apocalypse and spectacular images of devastation following massive climate change-induced storms. Moreover, new journalistic initiatives have primarily focused on increasing the quantity of news stories on climate change, as opposed to improving the inclusiveness, scope, and depth of reporting. Alternative environmental media outlets are noted for their capacity to publish counter-hegemonic narratives and for their potential to include a wider variety of environmental justice frames that are excluded from the mainstream press. Sometimes, however, hegemonic narratives and exclusionary frames are still entrenched through alternative media outlets. In this chapter, I first outline key scholarly critiques of mainstream U.S. climate journalism—in particular, I examine critiques that focus on the exclusion of climate justice perspectives. I then review scholarship that explores the potential for alternative digital media outlets to publish more robust and engaged stories on climate justice. Following this, I examine three prominent digital climate newsletters. I close with an assessment of the potential opportunities and drawbacks these digital newsletters afford as an alternative to mainstream climate journalism.

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