On responsible journalism

I read this story, in The Atlantic, about the California drought. And I read this one about the water crisis in Brazil.

Let me summarize them here, so you don’t have to read them. They say, basically: “running out of water, dire situation, drought, thirst, emergency, apocalypse.”

Well, they don’t actually say that last word, but that’s what I got from the articles.

I have two suggestions to make for this sort of journalism. First, it should come with a warning button. Or three.

“You’ve just clicked on ‘California Drought.’ Are you sure you want to read this article?”

If you click “yes,” it says: “REALLY sure?”

If you click “yes” again, it says, “What about your family? How are they going to feel about you reading this article? Please have an independent family member click ‘yes’ before proceeding.”

Once you get through all that, if you choose to actually read, the article should be required to end with three things you can do to fix the situation. “Please stop eating broccoli, stop flushing all toilets, and contact your local representative today.”

Would that help? I’m not sure. I just know that I should have thought more before I clicked. Also, aaaaaack apocalypse.

2 thoughts on “On responsible journalism

  1. Antonia Banyard

    Tanya, I agree! There should be a journalistic code of conduct that says you can’t leave your readers in the pit of despair. See George Marshall’s Don’t Even Think About It if you’re curious about how badly climate change has been communicated. Despite its doom-and-gloom title, he’s actually a positive guy.

  2. Tanya Post author

    “Don’t leave your readers in the pit of despair” — a lesson journalists could learn from children’s writers.

    I’ll look up Don’t Even Think About It. Thanks, Toni!


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