Remaking the Energy Beat

The flip side of climate change coverage is energy. CJR offers a prescription for how to revitalize the beat.

Broadly speaking, the authors argue:

if energy news is to engage and inform the decisions of politicians, industry executives, and the public, the media must think more strategically about what they cover, how they cover it, and which reporters they assign to cover it.

The article does a nice job of explaining how this can be done, pointing by way of example to some of the innovative news room approaches now underway. But it does not make a convincing case that a reinvention of the beat will help make the issue weightier in the public’s mind.

When drivers are paying upwards of $4.oo a gallon for gas, then we can expect energy to become a hot topic again. That seems to be what gets people’s attention, not the national security implications of our dependence on foreign oil, nor the connection between fossil fuels and global warming.

There’s a reason why the silly Republican “Drill, baby, Drill,” mantra got political traction in the frenetic spring of 2008 when oil was approaching $150 a barrel.

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