Climate Change as a Journalistic Topic: Experiences From Germany and Czechia

Updated: Jan 18

Speakers: Sven Egenter, Simona Fendrychova

Moderator: Fara Warner

December 1st, 2020, 16:05-16:40 CET.

This discussion was organized in cooperation with the Czech-German Future Fund.

Written by Yulia Chervotkina

Key words: climate change, science, political decisions, climate change solutions

Short annotation, summary: Journalists Simona Fendrychova (from the Czech Republic) and Sven Egenter (from Germany) focus on climate change issues in their work and discuss how to make this topic mainstream by attracting more supporters amongst the ordinary people. They both agree that while addressing the issue of climate change, it is essential to rely on measures that prove they work and at the same time consult scientists before attracting public attention to newly appearing actions.

The project or approach to be discussed in the session:

Sven (covered the work of Coal exit commission during two years):

- They invited people attending to witness the changes with their own eyes and later adapt them to their country's case;

- It is critical to understand why journalists and researchers are interested in CLEW’s job which is to have an opportunity to suggest solutions that would best fit a particular situation.

Simona Fendrychova (Aktuálně.cz):

- She tries to balance political and scientific issues in her articles to get the audience interested in the issue of climate change by trying to include more personal stories and graphs and making the articles more appealing.

Evidence of impact:

Simona: She can measure the impact of her articles by checking the website statistics (the number of people interested in reading her articles on the site as well as the amount of time they spend reading them.)

Limitations, risks of the approach provided by the speaker:


- Some people might be against coal exit as they will lose their jobs, so a solution which satisfies everyone must be found;

- CLEW cannot advise on what to do in general; it is crucial to understand the context of each situation separately;


- Journalists have to adapt to the audience and make articles shorter and more interactive to keep the reader’s attention;

- Journalists have to look for general topics: instead of continually writing about the transition, it is better to cover personal stories, particular projects and places.

Takeaways [by Fara Warner]

- When talking about solution journalism, they talk about a response to the problems which is evidence-based;

- Limitations are the heart of the solution stories; journalists do not want to turn their articles to ‘silver bullets’;

- It is crucial to give the government information and how it will be used is not a journalist's responsibility.

Other considerations:

Fara Warner is working on the creation of a toolkit for covering climate through solution journalism. The idea is to create a community of practice consisting of people like Sven Egenter, Simona Fendrychova, and previous other speakers.