France: EFJ co-signs Charter for a better account of the ecological emergency in the media
Committed to a better treatment of the climate crisis, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is a co-signatory of the Charter for upgraded journalistic practices to tackle the ecological emergency, alongside many media, journalists, journalism schools and journalists’ unions in France.
The Charter, published on 14 September 2022, with the support of the scientific community, contains 13 articles to improve media coverage of all issues related to climate, life and social justice.
The EFJ encourages all journalists to promote this charter in their newsrooms, so that the media integrate the major ecological and social issues of the 21st century in their daily reflections and journalistic practices.
The Charter is also available in French.
The scientific consensus is clear: both the climate crisis and the rapid decline of biodiversity are underway, and human activity is to blame. The impact on ecosystems and society is global and, in some cases, irreversible. Limits are reached and exceeded one after the other, and half of the world’s population is already highly vulnerable to the impacts of the crisis.
In its sixth report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emphasizes the crucial role the media must play in informing on climate change. It is up to journalists across the planet to rise to the challenge that the surge in extreme weather events represents for current and future generations. As we are faced with the critical emergency of the climate crisis, we journalists must step up our practices in order to fully address these issues – and what’s at stake – in our coverage.
That is the purpose of this charter. We therefore encourage all journalists and media to:
- Cover all stories related to climate, living beings and social justice in an interdisciplinary manner insofar as they are intricately intertwined. Ecology can no longer be limited to a separate column; it must become a prism through which stories are approached.
- Take an educational approach. Scientific data relating to ecological issues are often complex. We must explain orders of magnitude and scales of time, help identify causal links, and provide elements of comparison.
- Reflect on wording and images used. Carefully choosing words and pictures is crucial so as to accurately describe the facts and convey the urgency. We must avoid representations that may distort reality and minimize the seriousness of the situation.
- Widen the scope of coverage. Refrain from solely calling on individuals to take responsibility and action but consider upheavals as a systemic problem requiring political responses.
- Investigate the causes of the current upheavals. Question our growth model, weigh the role of economic, financial, political actors in the ecological crisis. Remember that short-term considerations can be detrimental to humanity and nature.
- Guarantee transparency. The mistrust of mainstream media entangled with the spread of misinformation compels us to carefully review data, facts, pieces of information given out and experts quoted, as well as to display sources and be transparent about potential conflicts of interest.
- Expose strategies put in place to plant seeds of doubt in the public’s mind. Economic, political lobbying is actively striving to misinform and hamper the public’s understanding of issues, thereby hindering necessary action to address upheavals.
- Inform on actual solutions. Investigate thoroughly ways to act in favor of the climate, nature and human beings, be it on a small or large scale. Cross-examine the solutions set out.
- Request lifelong training. In order to grasp the bigger picture as well as the intricacies of climate change in our societies, journalists must be provided with vocational training throughout their careers. Such a right is paramount to ensuring quality of coverage.
- Oppose financing resulting from the most polluting activities. In order to ensure editorial coherence in covering climate change issues, journalists must have the right to express their concerns or disapproval of financing, advertising and/or media partnerships when linked to activities they deem harmful.
- Strengthen media independence. In order to be freed from any pressure, editorial decisions must be completely independent from media owners’ interests.
- Gear up for “low carbon” journalism. Lower the carbon footprint of journalistic activities, using more environmentally friendly tools and means, without refraining from necessary fieldwork. Encourage newsrooms to rely on local journalists whenever possible.
- Boost media cooperation. Take part in a united media ecosystem and defend journalistic practices keen to preserve living conditions on Earth.