Green is a local journalism niche

Take a look at this list

  • Deals in the real, the tangible, the directly imaginable
  • Speaks the language of collective action, in contrast to the disempowered individualism of ‘small actions’ at the national level
  • Addresses the individual as a member of a community, as opposed to a citizen of the planet
  • Speaks peer-to-peer rather than from the standpoint of authority
  • Pragmatic, descriptive and inviting (we are doing this – come and join in!)

Now considering what I blog about here you could think that it’s a list of ideals local journalism should stand for. Perhaps a manifesto of community journalism.

It’s actually a list of some of the defining features of an “energetic local discourse” in green issues that Alex Lockwood identifies in post about green issues and local journalism – why local journalism is better for green issues

Picking up on the subject I proposed for the last carnival of journalism, Alex thinks that local is exactly where the green issue is best discussed and developed. The national level of debate just isnt hitting home.

One of the biggest disjuncts in climate change has been between the size of the problem (global, system-changing) and the dominant ’small actions’ communications set (let’s change the lightbulbs; ‘do your bit’). The size and threat of climate change is communicated too effectively, and many people have felt overwhelmed or that the problem must be exaggerated.They feel their actions are too small to matter.

Citing research from the IPPR Alex points out that locally focused initiatives has been more effective at getting people to engage:

“what has emerged through these initiatives is a powerful repertoire of ‘communal address’ that differs from the campaigning or top-down national communications of government, NGOs and the national press.”

I like the idea of a “repertoire of communal address” as appose to the national line. Local rather than national.

The directly imaginable, communal address, community, peer-to-peer, and importantly, the ability to join in with activities… The digital/local combination is a powerful way of providing people with agency and positive local messages, so they can see how they can make a difference in tackling climate change in their local areas.

Makes sense doesn’t it. And according to the research, its a “potentially useful positioning for organisations promoting climate-friendly behaviour”. But despite the possibilities Alex points out that many in the media are missing a trick or worse ignoring an opportunity.

It’s a shame but not suprising. Take green out of the thing and you could apply the logic for engaging in the way that Alex describes to any issue. But it’s clear that it isnt happening on any level or with any issue.

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