Climate change is the story of Florida’s future. No other state has as much at risk.
That’s why six of the leading news organizations in Florida have formed a partnership to share stories and work together to report on the complex challenges of climate change. The founding members include the Miami Herald, the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Tampa Bay Times, the Palm Beach Post, the Orlando Sentinel and WLRN Public Media.
“This is an opportunity to maximize our ability to cover the biggest story of our lives — the threat of climate change,” Julie Anderson, editor and chief of the South Florida Sun Sentinel and Orlando Sentinel, said in a statement released Tuesday announcing the collaboration.
The initiative was born out of another successful partnership between news outlets — the award-winning editorial collaboration “The Invading Sea.” Opinion editors at the Miami Herald, the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Palm Beach Post and WLRN Public Media shared editorials and featured columns from residents and experts on the topic of sea level rise adaptation.
More newsroom are expected to join The Florida Climate Reporting Network, and partners have already begun sharing stories and ideas to strengthen climate reporting in the state.
“The network will expand the initiative to the entire state, lead with a news reporting focus and broaden the topic to other climate change effects beyond rising seas,” Mindy Marques, publisher and president of the Miami Herald, said in a statement. “In addition to sharing our stories written by our own staffs, our hope is that we will collaborate directly on some enterprise projects.”
Florida newspapers and public radio already have a long history of aggressive reporting on environmental issues but the network also will seek to add new and expert voices.
“We are exploring ways to build this partnership to include universities and nonprofit newsrooms in addition to the partners now in the fold,” Mark Katches, executive editor of the Tampa Bay Times, said in a statement.
News outlets will continue to share editorials and columns as well as climate change-related news stories.
“Based on surveys already conducted by WLRN, data demonstrates that our community wants more local news regarding the environment and climate change. It is a global challenge that demands local knowledge,” said WLRN Vice President of News Tom Hudson. “This collaborative is a bold move that harnesses the top news organizations in Florida in ways that are innovative, unique and meaningful.”
The news-side collaboration will tackle topics ranging from building resilience to increasingly deadly hurricanes to the impact of a warming world on Florida’s $104 billion agriculture industry. Then there are the threats to the big engine of Florida’s economy. Billions of dollars in waterfront real estate are at risk on multiple fronts: rising seas and stronger storm surge threaten structural damage, and anxious buyers and lenders — plus skyrocketing insurance — have already started to push down property values in vulnerable places.