Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

Journalism & the environment

Posted in Broadcasting and Media, International Development by Adam Westbrook on October 15, 2009

On the weekend dozens of climate change protesters climbed onto the roof of parliament in the latest stunt to get public attention for the cause. They used ropes and ladders to scale perimeter fencing before climbing up onto the roof of Westminster Hall.

The purpose: to ask MPs to sign a climate manifesto on Monday morning.

I write about journalism and multimedia for most of the time, but because it’s Blog Action Day today, I’ve been thinking about where the two meet. And the answer, it seems, is not in many places.

Let’s think about how the mainstream media cover the issue of climate change. It is of course well documented in broadcast news, with reports every few weeks (for example, from the BBC’s David Shukman). Big newspapers like the Guardian and Times have their own ‘environment’ sections online, featuring the calls of action of Bibi Van Der Zee among others.

And of course there have been landmark cinema releases including Al Gore’s glorified powerpoint presentation, Inconvenient Truth and Franny Armstrong’s Age of Stupid.

As for new media, when I checked 63,000 climate change related websites had been bookmarked by delicious. 69,000 videos are on Youtube with the similar tags.

Are we more informed as a result?

It’s an important question because there is little argument climate change is the most significant and global threat facing us today, and tomorrow. And for the next century.

It deserves more than 90 seconds in the 6 o’clock news every few weeks, and a feature in the G2.

The mainstream media, I think, have missed a massive opportunity to really inform the public on a regular basis. It affects us all, there is an appetite for news, analysis, advice on climate change. Yet it has no regular and protected space on our TV screens, supplements or radios (with the exception of One Planet on the BBC World Service).

PlanetDoes it not deserve a regular, accessible, digestible and regular form of coverage?

I would love to see a weekly magazine show, dedicated entirely to the environment. It would have the usual magazine-format mix of the latest news, interviews with important people in the fight against global warming, reviews of the latest green cars or gadgets, and practical advice on cutting your own carbon emissions.

The closest we ever came to that last item in the UK was Newsnight’s failed Green Man experiment.

Importantly this new video-magazine would not be preachy, it would accept the realities and practicalities of modern living, but show us solutions to those problems.

Perhaps we could all become united around this weekly offering, which shows us how to work together and take small steps as individuals to limit the effects of climate change, and make those dramatic Westminster protests unnecessary.

Just a thought. I suspect though it will be for new & social media to fill the gap.

Something a bit different from Beijing

Posted in Broadcasting and Media by Adam Westbrook on August 9, 2008

There’s no stopping it. The world’s going Beijing crazy for the next two weeks.

There’s allsorts…sport, opening ceremonies, tibet, demonstrations, human rights…..

But here’s something a bit different, and a bit brilliant from documentary filmaker Rachel Dupuy via the also briliant Current TV:

Hip hop Grannies

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Resolution One: Go Green

Posted in Uncategorized by Adam Westbrook on February 3, 2007

Yesterday’s climate change report was a timely reminder for me of my pledge last year to go green in 2007.

I’ve gotten off to a slow start mainly because of financial reasons, but luckily I came across a website that looks like it might make things a bit easier.
CoolMove.Org is a site dedicated to providing little tips on how we can reduce our carbon footprint. From energy saving lightbulbs to frugal flushing, they’re all things that someone renting a flat like me can do.

Here are some good ones I’m going to try and implement on the asap:

Tip #10 :: Take a shorter shower

Showering accounts for about 20 percent of the water used in the home and it takes a lot of energy to heat that water. Reducing your shower time by five minutes will save you from heating 15 to 30 gallons of water each time.

Tip #18 :: Unplug your cell phone charger when you’re not using it

Even when turned off, things like microwaves, cell phone chargers and televisions use energy.

Tip #21 :: Put a recycling bin next to your trash can

This is an easy and convenient way to remember to recycle more often.

Tip #32 :: Eat Local

According to some sources, food travels an average of 1,200 miles to get to your plate, and accounts for thirty percent of the goods transported by road. Try to find locally produced food to cut down on these unnecessary emissions.

Tip #44 :: Lunchtime

Pack your lunch in tupperware containers that can be reused each day
These are all things I don’t do, through laziness more than anything else. I reckon 2007’s going to be the year that we start to take this go-green thing seriously. If you’ve got any other eco tips, pass ’em on!

Planet Earth

What a waster….

Posted in Uncategorized by Adam Westbrook on October 23, 2006

Right, so it’s Energy Saving Week this week, and to kick it all off, pretty depressing statistics about how us Brit’s waste energy like it’s going out of fashion.

According to a survey into five European countries, Britons waste more energy than anyone else…and it’ll pack another 43 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere by 2010.

The main culprits? TV’s left on standby, mobile phone chargers left plugged in and people leaving lights on. Yes, that’s right, 63% of us apparently leave lights on when we leave a room.

Looking at the worst wasters, I think I’m guilty of all of them…

  • My mobile charger, Mp3 charger and laptop charger are all plugged in at home right now.
  • And I think our TV’s on standby.

I’m planning on making some changes soon…I’ll keep you posted.

Old people, really.

The other shocker from the report out today (from BBC News):

The survey found 27% of those aged 65 and over felt no guilt about the energy they use and its impact on the local environment. 

Charmed. Although it does mean 70% do give a damn, despite the likelyhood most over 65s will be part of the nitrogen cycle when it all hits the fan. Worst though:

…about a quarter of 18 to 24-year-olds do feel moderately guilty about the impact their energy use has on the environment.

25%….moderately guilty. Even though it’s been the hottest summer since records began. Even though it’s mid October and you can still wear a t-shirt. I swear this inexplicable lethargy is going to be the end of us. Why is no-body shitting their pants at all this?!

Current TV comes to the UK!

Posted in Uncategorized by Adam Westbrook on October 8, 2006

Exciting news from the media world this weekend: Sky’s announced plans to launch US network Current TV in the UK and
Ireland in spring 2007.

…..well I’m excited anyway.

And you might not be dribbling away like me because you probably haven’t heard of Current TV…so allow me to enlighten you.Current TV wall

Launched last year by the 21st century’s own version of Captain Planet, Al Gore, Current TV is
America’s first “user generated” network. This means that around 30% of its output is produced by its viewers, ordinary peeps like you and I.

Some are professional film makers, some journalists. But they all have a story and a passion to tell it.

Each film (or “pod” as they’re known as) can be between 1-10 minutes long or thereabouts.  First users upload their films where they’re watched and voted on by other viewers. Those deemed good enough for broadcast are given the “green light” and it enters the network’s schedule to beamed across
America.

A quick peruse on the site reveals coverage of a hunger strike to call for the recall of US troops in Iraq, the story of a young Brazilian emigrating to Europe and a film about an oil spill in the
Mediterranean.

It’s great because anyone can make a film as long as they’re interested in the subject. So events that would be ignored by network media gets due coverage; issues big business would prefer we didn’t know about get exposed. In other words Current TV does what good journalism should do but often doesn’t.

And the fat cats are sitting up and taking notice too. Current has the one thing big business gets hot and sticky about: the attention of the 18-34 market. Young people make these films and young people watch them too.

So I’m excited about Current TV coming over here. Partly because it’s a great chance for young British filmmakers to get stuff on air and because it’ll be fascinating to see what us lot will make programmes about.

Oh and did you know they pay up to $1,000 for pods that make it to the air?

Al Gore’s excited too, he said the UK deal is: “a big step in fulfilling Current’s mission of sparking a global conversation among young adults