• Course Code:  JN26.1e

  • Term:  Self paced

  • Open for Enrollment

  • Self-paced

  • Course Author(s)
    Catherine Mackie
Environmental reporting final course

Environmental reporting | Why local matters: Sources

Self paced


  • Circles
    Thomson Foundation


Take this course on Desktop or Mobile. For the best mobile experience, download the EdCast app for free on iOS and Android and use team name: thomsonfoundation.edcast.com.​

Email us at journalismnow@thomsonfoundation.org if you experience any technical difficulties.


This course was created in collaboration with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Carbon Brief, Clean Energy Wire and Periodistas por el Planeta

Self Paced


This course is designed to give journalists the skills required to investigate local environmental stories and recognise if and how they are linked to the biggest issue facing the planet: climate change.  It will guide you on how to expose the political and economic drivers behind many local environmental issues and where to turn for reliable data, sources and information. Interrogating the role of the journalist and treading the line between impartiality and activism is an important part of the course. You’ll be guided through some key terminology to help with understanding and our experts and environmental reporters will help you recognise the unique role local journalists have to play in changing the narrative around climate change. It’s a critical time for local reporters trying to explain environmental issues to their audiences. This course aims to give you the tools to do that job.




  • You will learn how to recognise if and when an environmental  story is linked to climate change and the importance of interpreting scientific jargon for the audience.
  • You will be guided on best practice for sourcing accurate information on environmental stories and provided with a sourcing toolkit.
  • You will find out about the importance of data journalism to environmental and climate change stories and how to use data effectively and responsibly.
  • You will learn how to recognise the political and economic factors behind many environmental stories and why it’s important to find them.
  • You will be guided on treading the fine line between environmental journalism and environmental activism.
  • You will be introduced to ways you can use the law to your advantage when covering environmental stories and also learn how it can be used against you.


Catherine Mackie, your course instructor is an Editorial Associate at the Thomson Foundation. She’s a former BBC senior journalist with almost 30 years experience in front of and behind the camera and an examiner for the UK’s National Council for the Training of Journalists. She’s a former Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. 


Joining Catherine is a team of experts.

Top row: L to R

PATRICK GREENFIELD is a reporter with the UK-based Guardian media. He writes about biodiversity loss, the climate crisis and possible solutions. Before working at the Guardian, he was a producer with CNN. 

LEO HICKMAN is the director and editor of Carbon Brief, a UK-based website covering the latest developments in climate science, climate policy and energy policy. They specialise in data-driven articles and graphics to help improve understanding of climate change.  In 2020, he was named Editor of the Year by the Association of British Science Writers.

LAURA ROCHA is the president of Periodistas por el Planeta (Journalists for the Planet), an organisation of environmental journalists across Latin America who try to bring environmental and climate change stories to the attention of politicians and economists.


Bottom row: L to R


PA LOUIS THOMASI is the Director of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Africa office. 

Dr RICHARD DANBURY is an academic lawyer, journalist and former criminal barrister. He directs the MA in investigative journalism at City, University of London in the UK.

SVEN EGENTER is the Editor in Chief and Executive Director of Clean Energy Wire (CLEW). As well as writing about the energy transition in Germany and beyond, CLEW also trains journalists to help them understand and report on environmental and climate change solutions. 


    • Section 1 Gives an overview of the course and introduces the media experts who will be your guides.
    • Section 2 Helps you understand the basics of climate change and recognise the part it plays in environmental stories. 
    • Section 3 Guides you on how to find reliable sources and information.
    • Section 4 Introduces you to data and its importance to telling the story of the environment and climate change 
    • Section 5 Explores the economic and political drivers behind environmental stories at a local level and why it’s important to recognise and understand them.
    • Section 6 Helps you to understand the difference between journalism and activism when reporting on emotive environmental issues particularly climate change.
    • Section 7 Guides you on understanding your legal rights when covering contentious environmental stories.



You can complete this course in 3 hours across multiple sections

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Environmental reporting | Why local matters: Sources


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