Class 7 Outline – Media

Class 7 – Monday, April 11, 2022

  • How well does or does not the media cover climate issues?
  • How to increase media coverage of the climate emergency.
  • Be Your Own Media

Required Readings

  4. Guide to writing a great news release – in files
  5. Press release tips and tricks summary – in files

Optional Reading

  1. Media Events Workbook (good principles first section) – in files
  2. How to Organize a Virtual Press conference – in files
  3. News release template – in files
  4. Sample releases in files


3:40 Intro – call Gov. Hochul; next class environmental justice, Just Transition

3:45 News

– Vermont Climate Bill
– NYS climate action

3:55 Media

4:10 Writing a press release, letter to editor

4:30 Mark’s climate week

4:40 Update re Sunrise
5:05  Earth Day – Norlite
5:15  review letter to legislator, memo


3:40 Call Gov. Hochul (518 474-8390, 3, then 1)

Subject: Call Governor Hochul to Deny Norlite’s Permits

Please make a quick phone call today to Governor Hochul to deny Norlite’s Title V Clean Air Act and RCRA Part 373 Hazardous Waste Permits. Here’s link with easy instructions and a short script:  Filling out the info on the link will let us know how many people called.

Sample message


  1. Dial Governor Hochul’s office at 518-474-8390
  2. Press 3 to leave a voicemail or speak to an agent. (You can then hit 1 to leave a message).  You can use your own words or the script below:

Hi, my name is _YOUR NAME_ and I’m calling from _YOUR TOWN/CITY_ to urge Governor Hochul to direct DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos to deny Norlite’s Title V and RCRA Part 373 permit renewal applications. (more details in link)

Norlite is a hazardous waste incinerator in Cohoes NY, and a serial violator of environmental law. Lights Out Norlite believes they are the largest single-point source of mercury pollution in NYS. Residents in Cohoes and Troy should enjoy their equal rights to clean air and a healthy environment. For more information, visit

We have a real chance at stopping this hazardous waste incinerator if DEC denies this permit renewal. Norlite’s permits expired on Dec. 31, 2020, and they continue to operate under “administrative extension.” Please help us get Governor Hochul’s attention by calling today.

3:45 News update

IPCC report – The world can still hope to stave off the worst ravages of climate breakdown but only through a “now or never” dash to a low-carbon economy and society, scientists have said in what is in effect a final warning for governments on the climate. Greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025, and can be nearly halved this decade, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to give the world a chance of limiting future heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

The final cost of doing so will be minimal, amounting to just a few percent of global GDP by mid-century, though it will require a massive effort by governments, businesses and individuals. But the chances were narrow and the world was failing to make the changes needed, the body of the world’s leading climate scientists warned. Temperatures will soar to more than 3C, with catastrophic consequences, unless policies and actions are urgently strengthened.

The IPCC said it was still technically possible, and even economically viable, for nations to curb carbon pollution on the scale that’s required. However, it “cannot be achieved through incremental change.”

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres berated leaders of the industrial pollution nations such as the United States for putting the profits and campaign donations of fossil fuel companies ahead of the needs for continued life on our planet. Such leaders “are choking our planet, based on their vested interests and historic investments in fossil fuels.” The IPCC report serves as a “file of shame,” he said, “cataloging empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unlivable world.”

Jim Skea, a professor at Imperial College London and co-chair of the working group behind the report, said: “It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5C. Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”

role of media and climate change – The IPCC scientists make two arguments about the impact of advertising. The first is simply that the advertising and media strategies of the fossil fuel industry have become central obstacles to climate action by sowing doubt in the minds of the public and policy-makers: “A good number of corporate agents have attempted to derail climate change mitigation by targeted lobbying and doubt-inducing media strategies. A number of corporations that are involved in the supply chain of both upstream and downstream of fossil fuel companies make up the majority of organizations opposed to climate action.”

The second case is that advertising and PR are used as tools by major polluters to avoid taking the steps needed to stop the emergency.

Vermont climate legislation. Climate and energy activists are raising the alarm about what they see as critical flaws in a proposed climate bill now being considered by the Vermont Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy.

If it becomes law, H.715 would require certain providers of fossil-based heating fuels — oil, propane, natural gas, coal and kerosene — to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by obtaining “clean heat credits.” They could do this by delivering lower-carbon options to their customers, making deals with other companies that deliver such options, helping install non-fossil-fuel heating systems, or buying credits from the marketplace. Implementing all of this would fall to the Vermont Public Utility Commission.

Many say they don’t understand the bill.

“350VT appreciates the intent of this bill, but our analysis is that it is structured in such a way that leaves it open to exploitation by fossil fuel interests and that it would not lead to the emissions reductions required under the Global Warming Solutions Act,” Rule and her colleagues wrote in a position paper issued last month. “The pathways it would provide could easily harm communities and life-sustaining ecosystems, and impact our ability to grow food, beyond Vermont’s borders.”

NYS Climate Plan Hearings

Long Island – The high-level overview is that IBEW Local 1049, Steamfitters Local 638, Plumbers Local 1, and Teamsters Local 282 turned out about 300 members (first for a rally in the parking lot at Brookhaven Town Hall and then in the hearing room, which included an overfill room). They were rude, disruptive, and menacing and engaged in the direct harassment of some of our supporters both walking in and out of the hearing. It was clear that most of them were mobilized around the 2024 gas ban specifically. “We need a plan, not a ban” was the motto of the day.

Between these groups and some business entities (local chambers of commerce, local civic associations, National Grid, and a propane business rep), their overall orientation was that we need an all-of-the-above energy approach (hydrogen, renewable natural gas, renewable propane); that banning gas is misdirected; that we need to ensure reliability, safety, and cost); and that all electric is not rational.

The Long Island groups who organized around this day turned out about 40 people. At the end of the day we still had a 65:35 ratio of supportive testimony in favor of an equitable and rapid implementation of CAC with pushback against false solutions. There was also a handful of testimony around the need for Nation-to-Nation consultation with Indigenous communities to ensure barriers to accessing renewables for those communities is addressed in the final scoping plan. Particularly powerful testimony was provided by our very own Monique Fitzgerald, a member of the Setalcott Nation about the many things lacking in the plan around Indigenous issues, as well as from Helen Sells, an Elder from the Setalcott Nation.

Bronx –

3:55 Media

Overall analysis of media coverage

Ever wonder why Americans have been so slow to support climate action? A new study lays some of the blame on media bias —for 30 years, three of the country’s most influential sources of news gave too much credence to arguments that the world shouldn’t take decisive action to mitigate climate change.

The American media lends too much weight to people who dismiss climate change, giving them legitimacy they haven’t earned, posing serious danger to efforts aimed at raising public awareness and motivating rapid action, a new study shows.

Chris Hayes, MSNBC – “every single time we’ve covered [climate change] it’s been a palpable ratings killer. So the incentives are not great.” – , climate silence continues to reign across the bulk of the US news media. Especially on television, where most Americans still get their news, the brutal demands of ratings and money work against adequate coverage of the biggest story of our time. Many newspapers, too, are failing the climate test.

corporate ownership concentration

In 1983, 50 companies owned 90% U.S. media*. Since the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the act that reduced the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations on cross ownership, 90% of U.S. media, is owned by 6 companies, Viacom, News Corporation, Comcast, CBS, Time Warner and Disney (Corcoran, 2016; Lutz, 2012).

President Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The act, signed into law on February 8, 1996, was “essentially bought and paid for by corporate media lobbies,” as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) described it, and radically “opened the floodgates on mergers.”

Radio has seen an equally appalling consolidation, which has been horrendous for both news media and music. In 1995, before the Telecommunications Act was passed, companies were not allowed to own more than 40 radio stations. “Since passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, Clear Channel [now called iHeartMedia] has grown from 40 stations to 1,240 stations — 30 times more than congressional regulation previously allowed,” according to a report from the Future of Music Coalition.

Local newspapers, too, have been stung by these deregulations. Gannett, for instance, owns more than 1,000 newspapers and 600 print periodicals. Layoffs have been the norm for the company, including at USA Today, the paper with the largest circulation in the country, where layoffs were described as a “total bloodbath” in the American Journalism Review.

Who Owns the Media in the U.S.?

About 15 billionaires and six corporations own most of the U.S. media outlets. The biggest media conglomerates in America are AT&T, Comcast, The Walt Disney Company, National Amusements (which includes Viacom Inc. and CBS), News Corp and Fox Corporation (which are both owned in part by the Murdochs), Sony, and Hearst Communications. All of them save for Sony make an appearance in our online news sources chart.

4;10 – Be the Media

How to get media coverage

Go after the media – don’t wait for them – understand their deadlines and what they need (radio and tv need 10 to 25 second sound bites) – compile a phone list – local media relatively easy, national very hard – don’t forget letters to the editor

At events – photos, facebook / twitter / Instagram – livestream (get the phone in close, buy a tripod, maybe externa mic)

Media hook – The “hook” is that critical piece of newsworthy information that will capture the attention and interest of both the news media and their audiences

Write the one paragraph quote you going to get

What is the point you want to make – keep on your talking points, not theirs

Whatever the most stupid thing you say is what they will print

Media Advisory – who, what, when, where, why

Unusual alliances. One of journalism’s favorite narratives is the odd couple: people you wouldn’t expect or who normally don’t get along coming together.

Think visually. That’s why staging actions that help visualize climate change can be very powerful for the community, and the media.

Make it the first, the largest, or the only. Media are often looking for what is fresh and new. You can boast about your action if it is the “first interfaith gathering in the area on global warming” or “the longest march in Cairo in a decade.”

David vs. Goliath. Many cultures have stories of the hero who wins against all odds. You can tap into this through your action design, or also emphasizing how big our opponents are.

Photos – they say 1,000 words – Designate a photographer: it could be a professional, a volunteer, a friend – whoever you can find who is reliable and can take a good photo.

Colorful posters and signs

My first viral event – atomic peanut from Harrisburg to the White House

Sound system

How to write a news release

Pyramid style. Most important thing in first paragraph.

Review sample release – look at tips

How to hold a press conference

Not too long – not too many speakers

Real people with real stories help

Press like reports / studies

They don’t like forums

Get the names and titles in the press release

Don’t use a bull horn

Have someone as the media liaison

Have the media sign in

Send out advisory two or three days beforehand. Call the media, TV stations 8:55 to 9:05 PM; can call radio stations (if they still exist) to tape something

How crazy can you be

4;30 – Mark’s climate week

NYS Budget – no real $, dropped the bill to ban gas in new buildings

Started to draft testimony for Climate Action Plan

Doing webinar tonight on Earth Day to May Day

Press conference on 100% renewable capitol bill delayed – did do outreach to get groups to sign on

Outreach for Earth Day – Climate Can’t Wait –

4: 40 Break

4:45 Update re Sunrise

When is it meeting

5:00  Earth Day – Norlite


– do calls on spot re norlite


– how to get people on van – signs – set up google document

– outreach

– do a banner and signs

5:15  review letter to legislator, memo


5:25 calling legislators