The People’s Climate March & The Media: Why Journalistic Integrity Matters – Georgetown International Environmental Law Review

Shana Mirhosseini CLIMATE MARCH

The People’s Climate March & The Media: Why Journalistic Integrity Matters

By Shana Mirhosseini, Staff Contributor

On September 21, the People’s Climate March drew 400,000 people to the streets of Manhattan. Despite the overwhelming evidence that global warming has been and continues to put our species at risk of extinction, preventive actions from governments around the world—both domestic and international—has been glacially slow. The purpose of the march was to demand action from the world leaders gathering in New York for the UN emergency Climate Change Summit the following day.

“This is not the only issue whose coverage has been massaged by the media to fit either a CEO or Board of Directors’ agenda, or to attract more viewers, even if it means airing borderline misleading content.”

Since the march, perhaps in an effort to look more canny and perceptive than the next organization, the news media in the US has focused heavily on the environmental footprint of the march. This type of reporting distracts the public from the real message, which was to show global leaders the people’s commitment to demanding appropriate policies with respect to climate change.

Any successful business person knows that in order to get a lot, sometimes you have to give a little. It is undoubtedly true that because of the march, thousands traveled to New York City who otherwise would not have. And thousands bought food and beverages in plastic containers. But without such a show of support for new action against climate change, progress cannot be achieved. The amount of carbon produced by this march pales in comparison to what will be achieved with such actions. Moreover, it is also wrong to blame the people for our current lack of compostable packaging in the food industry. This type of reporting distracts from the essential message of the march, and belittles the people’s efforts.

“No one is pretending the march had no carbon footprint … “

It is also important to note that most of the “news” media in this country is owned by corporations who would much rather continue in our current path of fossil fuel usage to pad their own bottom line. Therefore it would be in their own best interest to keep the public ignorant of the truth and in favor of maintaining the status quo. In fact, this is not the only issue whose coverage has been massaged by the media to fit either a CEO or Board of Directors’ agenda, or to attract more viewers, even if it means airing borderline misleading content.

The march on September 21 was the result an effort by people from all around the world to show public support for an important and truly global cause. No one is pretending the march had no carbon footprint, but the potential positive impact of global legal action would far outweigh the insignificant bit of pollution created by the march. Sacrifices need to be made in order to achieve progress. But those sacrifices may not create as deep an impact as they could if our news media continues to insist on misinforming the public.

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