Weather and Climate in the Newsroom: Expanding the Climate Matters Network and Its Science Communication Research
Over the seven years prior to this award, the principal investigator from George Mason University and a national team of scientists, professional societies, science communication researchers, and broadcast meteorologists have been engaged in an effort to include in TV and other weather broadcasts information about current research on the interactions of climate and weather. A Climate Matters network has been established that involves 350 weathercasters at 218 stations, in 119 media markets, nationwide. A particular focus of the initiative has been to help the public become more familiar with the science behind how their local weather and its trends are related to the dynamics of the climate. Many communities nationwide are engaged in deliberations about how to understand, plan for, and adapt to the potential impacts of changes in their weather on important factors pertaining to their economy and well-being, such as natural resources, natural disasters, agriculture, industry, and health. The goal of this continuing project is to expand the quantity and nature of the coverage of such information into the news segments of local news media. By stimulating local reporting on climate impacts and their relationships to personal and community-wide decision-making, this project will potentially help millions of Americans better understand and respond to critical factors that are affecting their lives. This project is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. This includes providing multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences, advancing innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments, and developing understandings of deeper learning by participants.
The project involves five inter-related, complementary activities: (1) Knowledge building through formative research and process evaluation, specifically in-depth interviews and random sample surveys of journalists in each of the participating journalism professional societies; (2) Recruiting 400 news directors, producers, reporters and additional weathercasters into the Climate Matters network; (3) Providing climate reporting training and professional development to members of the network; (4) Producing and distributing Climate Matters reporting packages to all members of the network on a near-weekly basis; and (5) Evaluating the impacts of the climate reporting on public understanding of science.
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