Ohio University

OHIO community encouraged to engage in conversations about climate change at Challenging Dialogues Lecture

Published: February 14, 2020 Author: Jalyn Bolyard

New York Times reporter Lisa Friedman engaged the University community with her talk about the importance of open communication

New York Times reporter Lisa Friedman visited Ohio University on Feb. 11 to deliver her “Challenging Dialogues” lecture titled “Covering Climate Change in the Age of Trump.” 

President M. Duane Nellis opened the night by restating the importance of open dialogue in a time where there is a lot of divisiveness. “This series does not seek to solve a specific issue or persuade someone to a particular conclusion. Instead, it’s designed to help us all realize the importance of keeping lines of open communication,” he said. 

Friedman began by talking about how she fell into climate change coverage, and that her beat, or story topic, chose her. 

“I came to climate reporting completely by accident and discovered it was the best beat I’ve ever had. It’s a beat about absolutely everything,” Friedman said. 

Friedman talked about working on the climate desk for The New York Times, and showed the audience the The New York Times’ Climate and Environment page, where all the climate desk’s coverage lands. 

“I think one of the things that really makes us unique in what we’re trying to do in this visual age is to find new ways to tell stories,” Friedman said, explaining how journalists try to convey climate change stories in a way that resonates with readers about why the topic matters to them.  

Friedman showcased several interactive, informational pieces from the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times as examples, such as “How Much Hotter Is Your Hometown Than When You Were Born?” and “The Ocean Game: The sea is rising. Can you save your town?” 

Friedman showed how the articles worked by asking audience members for feedback on what options or choices to make. 

During the lecture, Friedman also highlighted different environmental and climate change policies that have been rolled back during the Trump administration, but also noted that change seems to be coming regarding climate change reform.   

Lisa Friedman and Dr. Ryan Fogt on stage
Dr. Ryan Fogt leads a discussion with Lisa Friedman. Photo Credit: Eli Burris

“Young people care about climate change,” Friedman said. “Across the spectrum, young people of both parties recognize that climate change is real, is largely caused by human activity and believe that the government should do something about it.” 

Friedman highlighted that although the methods Democratic and Republican parties want to take may differ, both are starting to want to make plans to combat climate change. 

After the presentation, Dr. Ryan Fogt, a climatologist and associate professor of meteorology, led a moderated discussion and then opened the floor for questions from the audience. 

Questions ranged from how to talk about climate change when someone has a different opinion to what are the best ways to cover the topic from a journalism viewpoint. 

“Lisa Friedman gave a wonderful presentation by sharing how to objectively report and guide discussions on climate change to our students, staff, faculty and Ohio University community,” President Nellis said. “I look forward to our future ‘Challenging Dialogues’ events.”  

The next “Challenging Dialogues” event will be held in the fall semester.