Monday, November 28, 2016

Here is the application I sent in to the New York Times when they were looking for a new editor for their new climate reporting section (with POLITE REJECTION AS ''FORM LETTER'' AT BOTTOM)

“The Times,” read the the announcement for the paper's new Climate Editor job, “is ramping up its coverage to make the most important story in the world even more relevant, urgent and accessible to a huge audience around the globe.” It went on to add that applicants should prepare “a memo outlining their vision for coverage… this vision is the most important part of the application.”
Although I was busy with my cli-fi work in September, cli-fi colleagues and friends encouraged me to apply. Having already thought long and hard about what the future of climate journalism ought to be, as a journalist myself, and as a longtime reader and follower and regular commenter at Andrew Revkin's very good DOT EARTH Blog at the Times, I put some ideas together, and sent them an application.
Here's an edited version  of my application. I didn't get the gig, of course, but applying for it was worth the time in writing down my thoughts and ideas.
How can we revitalize climate reporting? Here are my ideas.

1. Make The New York Times ''the future of climate journalism'' (an application  for the Climate Editor position) by focusing on the rise of the new genre of cli-fi in novels and movies.
The New York Times undertook this effort at an amazingly opportune moment. I've been working at the forefront of cli-fi PR and literary theory for a while now now. I see that the field of Climate journalism is about to be transformed. The Times could be at the forefront of that transformation by focusing on front page stories about cli-fi novels and movies and interviews with related literary agents, publishers, acquiring editors and of course cli fi novelists and screenwriters and literary critics. In addition, the Times Sunday Book Review and the Times daily book reviews should focus on cli-fi novels and literary criticism of such novels. We are at the edge of tomorrow. The future of the human species is at stake within the next 500 years. Cli fi novels and movies can help raise awareness and even foster action. Enough of the front page stories about distractions and movie stars. We need to shift gears and the Times does, too. See the Cli Fi Report for starters at

So it's time to rethink the aims of the NYT climate journalism, its approach to coverage and its targets for audience engagement.
The Times can lead by seek out new audiences, new voices, and new methodologies that all work together to enable powerful storytelling about cli-fi novels and movies and literary and culural criticism about cli-fi. On a daily basis. On the front page at least once a week. In the unsigned editorials once a month. And in opeds three times a week at least.
I think the opportunity can be summed up in three apparent ideas:
1) It’s by focusing on cli-fi that the Times will grow its reader engagement.
2) It’s by reporting more on the rise of the cli-fi meme and cli-fi novels and movies that the Times will make these issues easier to understand.
3) It’s by making its coverage more exploratory on issues related to cli-fi novels and movies that the Times will make that coverage more vital.
Let me explain.

Many people already understand the reality of the greenhouse effect well enough to see that we need to be acting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for climate impacts.
Some, though, not only understand the basics, but have begun to grapple with the larger challenges of how do we learn more about what’s coming, how do we act, how do we prepare. THE ANWSER: by reading and writing and reviewing cli fi novels and movies.
Narrowing the audience focus of climate coverage to concentrate on cli-fi — even if it alienates readers who are opposed to climate change  issues— can energize these readers.
Informed climate readers are not a small audience. The Yale Program on Climate Communication has been studying American’s perspectives on climate change for years now. As of March 2016, they found 45% of Americans have deep concerns about climate change, with 19% of American voters already what they term “alarmed” about climate change. These people already have basic understanding of climate change as an issue, and are scared. They think it’s serious crisis, that they’re feeling the effects now and they support real changes.
I suspect that Times readers include a disproportionately high number of these people. These readers have an unmet need. The answer is to focus on cli-fi as the Times did in a popular ROOM FOR DEBATE forum on July 29, 2014.
READERS need climate journalism that deepens their understanding of cli-fi stories and how we act, how we prepare. They need climate coverage that’s keeping up with the speed of change. They need climate coverage that speaks to the questions they have about that change.
All the coverage that The Times’ climate desk does should be aimed at serving these readers of cli-fi novels and movies. By making coverage more vital and compelling to the people who already know and care about climate, the Times can not only grab their attention, but find fresher angles and untold stories that are likely to be more interesting to others as well.
In my experience, informed climate readers have different concerns and passions than other readers.

Even more: they want journalism that has itself moved on to report on the rise of cli fi novels and movies. Enough of charts and boring statistics. We need literature and cinema to show us the way.
That means they want critical reporting on cli-fi .
The biggest single story on our planet is the rise of cli fi novels and movies worldwide. The Times should be covering this daily.

The scientific debate about the existence and causes of climate change is settled. We know climate change is happening, human-caused, and almost entirely the result of energy consumption, land use changes and industrial processes. The only genuinely interesting story now, in addition to the emergence of feedback loops (for example, carbon dioxide and methane leaking from melting permafrost) is the rise of the cli fi genre among novelists, critics and screenwriters.
The much, much more critical story concerns the rise of cli fi. How much warming can we expect? How much will the sea rise? How far will weather patterns shift? What are the second- and third-order risks of climate impacts (for instance, how can the Western U.S. prepare itself for future megafires)? What are the limits on our ability to adapt to, ruggedize for, insure against and rebuild after climate-connected disasters? Cli Fi novels and movies can tell these stories best of all and the Times should be covering this meme daily, on the front page and inside.
One idea: A series of frank discussion of cli-fi on the editorial pages and in opeds assigned to well known thinkers and literar critics

My direct experience is that people are fascinated with the questions about the shape of the world to come. They worry about impacts to their own lives, families, jobs and communities. They want to get a sense of how changes might feel as we live through them. Cli-fi novels and movies can help them understand the dire straits we are in as a species on planet Earth and please capitalize Earth in all uses in the Times. PLEASE. No more lowercase earth.
One of the biggest failures of climate journalism to date has been its inability to bring home to readers changes that have already occurred in the literary world vis a vis cli-fi. So make that your mission.

One possibility: have a weekly online feature where a global visionary -- from different nations and cultures -- is asked for their take on how cli fi novels and movies might change  as the climate crisis deepens.
Done right, exploratory coverage of the cli-fi meme can not only help the Times beat the competition to the punch time and again (making its coverage essential reading), it can also make the more deeply reported stories the Times publishes even more authoritative.
In Conclusion
Exploratory, frontline coverage of cli-fi in great stories and contextualized through systems journalism, aimed at those who already want honest, fresh perspectives can make the Times the leader in literate and literary climate journalism. I’d love to see that vision happen at the Times.

If you found this application interesting or useful, please recommend it and send it to friends via email or tweet it or put it on your Facebook and send  a copy or link to the New York Times public editor at -- and send it to reporters, academics, literary critics and culture mavens worldwide.

Curious, empathetic, compassionate: What we should be as human beings.
​ And the New York Times climate coverage, too!​

THE ''Cli-Fi ''REPORT:
50+ academic & media links:

NYT Rejection letter/ form letter that was sent to all 867 applicants

Subject:        New York Times Climate Change Editor Application
From:   NYTimes Recruiting <>
To:     Nytimes Recruiting <>

Thank you for applying for the climate change editor position at The New York Times.
We received an enormous response and have chosen our finalists (*note plural noun*) for the position, and we are sorry to inform you that you were not selected as one of the finalists.

We appreciate your interest in The Times and thank you for sharing your work with our search committee.

We wish you much success in the future.

Richard G. Jones
News Administration


Thank you for emailing the recruiting team at The New York Times.

Finalists for open positions will be contacted within the next several weeks, and we’re committed to notifying all applicants of their status.

Best regards,

Richard G. Jones
Associate Editor, News Administration

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