Publishers go green with new climate and sustainability verticals

Via Unsplash

Coverage around climate change and sustainability is increasingly the focus of a growing number of leading publishers. Audiences’ appetites for the subject show no sign of passing.

The takeaways:
  • The Atlantic has just launched Planet, a vertical and newsletter dedicated to climate journalism. It will be a guide to living through climate change, drawing on economics, business, and geopolitics as well as science.
  • Bloomberg launched Bloomberg Green magazine in the summer, after its new vertical Bloomberg Green. The magazine is printed quarterly on 100% recycled paper and contains ‘premier climate journalism’ centered on the business, science, and technology of climate change.
  • Group Nine Media launched a new channel called NowThis Earth last month. Climate, sustainability, biodiversity, species extinction, and environmental justice are the focus of its daily coverage.

The Atlantic’s Planet follows a similar format to its pandemic coverage. Rather than having a dedicated reporter or two, it is a newsroom-wide effort bringing in writers across all disciplines and sections.

  • The new section is accompanied by a new newsletter, The Weekly Planet, which will be much more conversational in its approach.
  • “We’ve made [Planet] because we recognize that climate change is the backdrop of our lives and one of the moral crises of the century, a globe-spanning force reshaping how we work, how we play, how we shop, and how we vote,” said lead writer Robinson Meyer. “ We will cover climate change in the present tense—not as a distant threat, but as a force that is already reconfiguring business, culture, society, and life on Earth.”
A bigger threat

It’s encouraging to see publishers continue to prioritize climate change coverage, despite the pandemic.

  • A number of publishers announced increased climate coverage projects in late 2019 and early 2020. However, COVID has pushed much of this focus off the agenda.

A hot topic: Data on people’s reading habits suggests that climate change is still front-of-mind for readers. In the U.S., media coverage of the climate crisis has declined since March. But the amount of readers and of page views on climate change content has not dropped.

  • There is an opportunity here to get higher-than-normal traffic for news publishers who continue to invest in climate coverage. 

“The public sees the urgency and actually wants more climate news,” the founders of Covering Climate Now said. “Even during the peak of coronavirus coverage in April, some of the world’s biggest news organizations told us that their audiences had little appetite for stories that weren’t about the virus, with one exception: climate change, which continued to generate significant traffic.”

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