Journalism and climate responsibility

Aarhus, 14 October 2009


Conference focuses on the climate
responsibilities of journalists

Journalists should cut back on drama and appeals to fear when covering climate issues, if they want to help their audiences take responsibility for climate change. Instead they should emphasize what actions the individual can take and also show how climate change impacts on the lives of people in developing countries.
So says Susanna Priest, professor of journalism at University of Nevada, USA. Susanna Priest will be delivering one of the key note speeches at an upcoming conference in Aarhus, Denmark, about the values that motivate individuals to act on climate change.

Susanna Priest will not be talking about whether journalists have an obligation towards the climate, instead she will provide research based advice on what journalists can do if they want to take on a more advocacy oriented role. Research within social psychology and communication shows that people can easily be frightened into ignoring threats all together. What helps are appeals to social norms about shared responsibility and ethics, and depictions of concrete and simple actions that individuals can take.

The conference “Global Dialogue: Responsibility Across Borders? Climate Change as Challenge for Intercultural Inquiry on Values” takes place at Aarhus University in Denmark from 3-6 November 2009 and gathers researchers and practitioners from the humanities, human sciences, education, journalism and the business world to discuss climate values.

During the conference, journalists and media researchers from Denmark, Norway, the US, Australia, Belgium, the Basque Country, Germany, United Kingdom and China will present research on media coverage of climate issues and debate the relationship between journalism and the climate crisis.

Participants in the conference will also learn about the Global Environment Journalism Initiative. The initiative has been set up by four Australian and five European journalism degree programmes to develop international courses on environmental and climate journalism.

Professors from Monash University in Australia and the School of Journalism in Aarhus will explain the rationale for the initiative and outline how the severity of the impact of climate changes is challenging the idea that journalists can remain neutral observers of developments.

The conference is organised by the research unit ICON (Interculturality, Conflict and Value Studies) at the Department of Philosophy and the History of Ideas at Aarhus University, Denmark.

For more information about the conference, please contact
Project manager Jacob Bock,, tlf. 89 42 65 49

For more information about the contents of this press release:
Media consultant Kirsten Sparre,, tlf. 20 94 03 49

ICON Aarhus University