By Alexandra Patel and Monica Medina
On Saturday, outside The New York Times building, 70 Extinction Rebellion protestors were arrested as they demanded greater coverage of the climate crisis by the notable news company. Similarly, activists from the Sunrise Movement conducted a “sit-in” outside the Democratic National Committee yesterday demanding a primary debate focused solely on climate change.
Why This Matters: The Federal government has largely abdicated its responsibilities when it comes to the climate crisis. As part of its climate denial narrative, the Trump administration has gone so far as to block and bury studies on the dangers of climate change while simultaneously denying the validity of the threats it poses to America’s security on national television. These demands for greater climate coverage in both the media and presidential campaigns highlight how individuals are increasingly willing to take to the streets to ensure greater media attention and government action on climate change. The climate crisis is no longer a second-tier issue for a majority of the public — it is defining the world as we know it today and threatening that of tomorrow. The mainstream media, the major political parties, and our government institutions should treat it as such.
Does Climate Change Deserve More Coverage in the Media? In 2018, The New York Times had published 795 articles relating to climate issues. Protestors, however, are calling for a change in the rhetoric the NYT uses to present its coverage. Transitioning from phrases like “climate change” to “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown” reflect a sense of urgency that the protestors claim must be expressed – and is something the NYT isn’t currently doing. Extinction Rebellion spokeswoman Eve Mosher tells CNN of the lack of seriousness present in the reporting done by the New York Times, “They should be treating it like World War II.”
Does Climate Change Deserve Its Own Debate? A CNN poll found that, for 82 percent of registered Democratic voters, climate change is a top priority issue. The DNC resistance to a single issue debate is slammed by protestors who claim that climate change is not a ‘single-issue, and that going about ‘business-as-usual’ is a “death sentence” for their generation – the climate emergency is not usual and must be confronted in a new way.
Freedom of the Press? Ironically, during the NYC protest outside The Times’ office, journalist Michael Nigro was arrested for photographing it. He was charged with trespassing despite being in a public space during the time he was reporting. Though he was released a day later, the tools he uses for reporting remained confiscated. One might think The Times would be the first to object to this kind of crackdown on the media. Watch his video of the protests and his arrest below.