Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post says it’s not shying away from the gravity of climate change while humanising the issue in its video stories.
“It can be a topic laced with doom and gloom, and the effects of climate change can be potentially devastating for life on this planet,” says director of video Mat Booth in an INMA Audio & Video Innovations blog. “However, it is important to also illustrate that change is possible, reveal that progress is being made, and solutions are out there.”
Booth says news organisations “increasingly prioritise climate change because it is one of the defining issues of our time.
“We know it is a topic that already impacts everyday life while increasingly shaping the social and economic outlook around the world, and we strive to make our coverage insightful and useful to our viewers.”
Having covered typhoons and rising temperatures in Hong Kong throughout its history, he says climate coverage has always been part of South China Morning Post’s DNA. “Climate stories are an important part of our publishing agenda throughout the year, and we always look for new ways to approach storytelling to help our viewers navigate this complex and often distressing topic.”
“It is not our objective to alarm or overwhelm our audience with disaster footage or sombre statistics. Nonetheless, we don’t shy away from portraying the gravity of the issue either.”
Booth says the English-language masthead has explained how the city handles and manages waste, and highlighted the Hong Kong Observatory’s role in keeping the public informed on local climate issues. “We combined archival footage with video we produce ourselves, turning the spotlight on local entrepreneurs, campaigners, and researchers who actively develop community-based solutions.
“We’re also explaining China’s approach to climate action to the rest of the world, providing imagery and context that people don’t get from reading headlines. COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, was widely covered by the international media. With Beijing at the centre of the conversation, SCMP was able to offer insights into policy, innovation, and challenges that only our unique focus on China can offer.”
Booths says syndicated footage was used with SCMP’s own infographics, “conveying the broader context with voiceovers overseen by our in-house climate experts, we’re able to provide unique explainer videos that are unlike anything else in the English-language media landscape.
“Although China is a leading contributor to global carbon emissions, it is also one of the leaders in green technology investment,” he says. “It has taken decisive action to set a course to scale back the use of fossil fuels, particularly coal. But forward-thinking policies like this year’s strict emissions quotas can be challenging to implement in practice.
“We portray the human experience of living through these transitions, while also illustrating the broader context of the issue.”
Booths says working with video “gives us the ability to do both.
“We can provide figures and analysis while engaging with our audiences, and we’re increasingly aware of what people like to watch. We also know what isn’t available to them elsewhere.
“Climate change is one of the most vital issues for any publication to cover, and we are seeing that it increasingly intersects with every aspect of the news cycle, from local news to geopolitics and business.
“Climate is, and will remain, as one of our core content pillars. Our video team continues to prioritise climate while looking for ways to expand and enhance coverage by making it about people as much as facts. We do it from global summits, in the field wherever stories break, and on the ground in our hometown.”
Booths says the SCMP’s climate coverage makes complex issues accessible to diverse audiences, while providing a window into Asia’s vibrant communities and cultures. “Our authentic video journalism enables viewers around the world to appreciate how people across this incredibly diverse continent face the defining challenge of our time.”