Climate expertise for journalism students
Fake news about the climate: we’re not falling for it!
With seaiceportal.de, REKLIM offers Germany’s most prominent infoportal on sea ice. Researchers prepare and distribute the contents for social media channels together with students from the Freie Universität Berlin. Every semester, new future journalists face the challenge of conveying climate-related information correctly, clearly and in an entertaining way: a practical seminar with farreaching benefits!
Dr. TONG-JIN SMITH
LECTURER AT THE IFPUK & FREE JOURNALIST
At first it might seem surprising that journalism students and communicators make appealing partner for a research network like REKLIM. But over the years, this collaboration between students from the Institute of Media and Communication Studies (IfPuK) at the Freie Universität Berlin and REKLIM has proven to be fruitful for both sites. In a time in which there is hardly any problem more pressing than understanding and adapting to climate change, it nevertheless remains a drastically underreported topic in the mass media. I consider raising awareness for it part of my job. At the same time, it's becoming increasingly clear that a modern understanding of research and knowledge transfer calls for a professionalization on the part of the researchers. A grasp of the effects and practice of communication in the public space has become a core competency, in which the goal is to open new opportunities for dialogue between the public and experts. This is the point of departure for our collaborative practical projects. From an academic standpoint, we're bridging the gap between theory and practice. At the same time, the experts from REKLIM have the chance to present their topics in the public discourse, and to acquire modern communication skills in the process. This is always an enriching experience in terms of learning from one another. Or, to put it another way: a win-win situation.
Dr. Renate Treffeisen
HEAD OF THE CLIMATE OFFICE FOR POLAR REGIONS AND SEA LEVEL RISE AND MEMBER OF THE REKLIM COORDINATION OFFICE
As a scientist, I’ve been working at the interface between research and society for the past eleven years: and that includes my work for the climate initiative REKLIM. Here one of our most essential goals is to use our unique formats and projects to reach young people. Right now, we can see how young people around the world are standing up for climate protection in the Fridays4Future demonstrations. At these protests, for the first time those people who will be hardest hit by climate change and its consequences – children and adolescents – are speaking out. This also lends their message a special weight: politically speaking, affected groups receive more attention than non-affected ones. Another important aspect of our work e.g. with seaiceportal.de is our goal to share our expertise, data and findings in a format suitable for a broad audience. Especially in the current situation, characterised by the increasingly used fake news and resultant ‘losing touch with reality’, it is particularly important to us that we combat this trend with real facts. But in order to do so, we need professionally trained ‘communicators’, and that means media specialists. The sooner they understand the value of science, how science works, and how they can gain access to scientific information, the sooner they’ll be willing and able to convey it. Especially in dialogue and interactions with Tong-Jin Smith’s students at the Freie Universität Berlin, an important process – in which both sides can learn a great deal for their own work – is set in motion.
Thanks to seaiceportal.de I’ve learned what a fascinating research field sea ice is, and how it influences the global climate. Sea ice is no longer abstract for me; now I know its relevance for my own life. As a result, I’m also trying to do more for climate protection in my own day-to-day actions and choices.
My name is Steve, and I’m currently on my way to becoming an independent illustrator and motion designer for film – that’s a major step, and my work with seaiceportal.de has been a tremendous help! It’s given me the chance to hone the skills I’ll need in my career, to work in a great team, and at the same time, to contribute to an important project for our global climate.
Ani Vasileva, Polina Stancheva, Argyri Paschalidi
The work with seaiceportal.de this semester was a great experience for us. We were able to expand our personal knowledge about sea ice and other general environmental questions, and to get actively involved in the creative use of Social Media channels. In the future, we want to personally pay closer attention to the problems produced by retreating sea ice and become better informed about potential protective measures.
Parastu Sherafatian, Shuangji Ni
‘Sea ice’ was something we only knew from impressive photos or from documentaries. The intensive work for seaiceportal.de opened up new and exciting perspectives for us, and brought us closer to the subject matter. Now sea ice is a concrete and tangible habitat, not to mention a topic in discussions about climate research with our friends.
In the course of the practical project, I learned how important the polar regions and oceans are for the global climate system. I also learned how important it is to communicate information concisely and in a form suitable for the target group, so that complex topics and research findings can be readily understood by a broad audience.
In the course of our collaborative project with seaiceportal.de, one thought especially occurred to me: the sea ice isn’t just going to wait on us to finish our bachelor’s degrees before it melts. We have to do something about it now, and there are experts who can help us. On seaiceportal.de we can find precisely the information and people we need in order to bring together research and activism; it’s also fascinating to see how much blood, sweat and tears are being invested in research projects in the most remote areas of the world.
Working together with seaiceportal.de definitely made me more aware of the broad range of related topics. In other words, I now have a much better grasp of how important the Arctic and Antarctic are for our planet, and of the responsibility that we all have to preserve these regions.
Julia Blaß, Elias Joswich
Needless to say, climate change is something we’re all worried about, but we weren’t that familiar with truly concrete indicators. Working with the information from seaiceportal.de and the corresponding research for the Twitter channel has really influenced our day-to-day lives. When we read political or economic news, we now pay much more attention to the potential effects for the sea ice and polar regions. We also take a more informed approach to polar-related news.
In order to manage a Social Media channel, you have to dig deep into the subject matter, and it tends to stick with you. Whether it was the heat wave in ‘our own back yard’ last summer, or weather phenomena on the other side of the planet: I really feel like I’m part of investigating the causes of these developments, and that I have access to objective information. As a result, I no longer simply take whatever the media reports at face value; I view it in a very different light.
Joy Schult, Anna Menne
Ice-free instead of school-free. In the polar regions this means no more sea ice. Though it may sound like an amusing thought, it’s increasingly becoming a bitter reality; thanks to the project, that’s something we’re now painfully aware of. Sometimes a little polar bear and penguin are a good start – but much more will need to be done around the world in order to save our climate. In our eyes, seaiceportal.de is doing a great job!
I found the work extremely interesting and learned a great deal about the importance of making science into something tangible and accessible for nonscientists. I also gained an impression of the relevance and diversity of sea-ice research and polar research, which I’d never truly been aware of in the past.
Participating Helmholtz Centre: AWI; Participating University: University Bremen