As an aspiring ocean communicator, I am very interested in what the future looks like for journalists who hope to share the effects of climate change, like ocean acidification and sea level rise, with stakeholders and the public. For that reason, I am embarking on a month-long exploration to find out what the future of this communication looks like. This will take the form of a multimedia final project for my Digital Storytelling class, which will hopefully be informative for me as I move forward in my career as a science writer. I am particularly interested in understanding how changes are being applied in the Boston community, and specifically how government and nonprofit organizations are working to prepare the city for sea level rise.
To address these questions, my final project will consist of three key components (subject to change):
- A text story based on interviews with experts who are working to effectively communicate what lies ahead. This includes both journalists who communicate with the public – like my professor, Matthew Nisbet, who has already agreed to be interviewed, and policy managers who are working to effect change at the infrastructure level. For example, I have already spoken with Julie Wormser, vice president of policy at Boston Harbor Now, about strategies for communicating the future of sea level rise with potential investors.
- A photo story that shows how Boston will fare as a result of sea level rise over the next 50-100 years. On November 15 and 16, certain neighborhoods of Boston will experience “King Tides,” which are unusually high tides that reflect what the city’s future might look like. I plan to take photos of the tides – hopefully in more than one location – and speak with nearby observers about their thoughts.
- A video story about the next generation of aquatic communicators. This component is particularly personal to me but is also an important part of the overall story on the future of climate communication in Boston. I am hoping to interview communicators from three different fields – e.g. a journalist, a scientist, and an intern at a nonprofit organization – who are just starting to figure out how this all works, and capture their thoughts on how they plan to communicate sea level rise and other issues that will likely intensify throughout their careers.
I expect the project to evolve as I reach out to more sources and flesh out my vision for each component, and am excited to see how things go. This project is an opportune intersection between the two journalism classes I am taking this semester: Digital Storytelling, through which I have had the chance to practically apply my communication skills through this blog, and Climate Change Communication, where I have explored different strategies for effective communication on climate and energy. I expect what I learn from the final project will be carried far beyond this semester.