Q&A with Washington Post’s Krissah Thompson on Growing Climate Coverage


When it comes to climate coverage, everyone is on deck at the Washington Post.

The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) is fast approaching and the Post is preparing full media coverage when the rally kicks off in November. In addition to having a team in the field, La Poste plans to have several teams producing content across franchises and publisher formats. The news agency’s goal is to make the news coming out of the meeting of world leaders to discuss climate change “as accessible as possible,” said Krissah Thompson, chief diversity and inclusion editor at Post.

The climate is becoming an increasingly important subject to be taken into account by editorial staff. The United States has experienced 18 extreme weather disasters with losses of more than $ 1 billion so far in 2021, according to a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Environmental Information Centers.

While news editors will cover the COP26 news, Digiday spoke with Thompson to discuss why the Post is investing so much human resources in this vertical sector and how the medium is doing it. While the Post’s primary coverage is in areas such as politics and government, business and technology, and investigative reporting, the Post “increasingly” sees the climate as an important area, Thompson said.

“It’s a key pillar of Washington Post coverage,” she said. “It’s an essential story.

The conversation has been edited and condensed.

How does the Post invest in climate coverage?

Our climate team has doubled since 2018 to around ten reporters and editors [A Post spokesperson later updated the figure to say that the team is made up of 13 employees — 10 reporters and three editors]. Maxine Joselow has just launched the “Climate 202” newsletter on climate policy. Journalist Tik Root was recently added to our Climate Solutions series, where we wrote about some climate space visionaries last year, describing them and their solution-oriented work. We’ve also added graphic reporters, data reporters, and designers, who work almost exclusively on climate.

The Capital Weather Gang is another four-person team that covers this. They started out as an old-fashioned weather coverage team that got really vibrant in social spaces and jump on weather news and trends and provide the science and meteorology behind it. With the extreme weather conditions and climate change, they have been essential in working with our climate team.

For broader environmental coverage, such as hurricanes in Florida or heat waves in Arizona, we ask members of our US office to cover the country at large and join the climate team.

What are the Post’s plans for coverage of COP26?

We see this climate conference as a time where we will focus on this important topic, and it brings together the great work done by the team and highlights it. Between the editors here and the team on the ground, we are approaching about ten people to cover COP26.

  • We have a graphic reporter in the field to make quick explanatory graphics.
  • Four to five people from our climate team will be leading the negotiations at the summit.
  • Some London-based correspondents will be in Glasgow to help capture this scene and also make sure we are on top of activist groups and climate protest movements.
  • Our international staff think about some of the countries and voices that could not afford to make it to the conference and how their views are – or are not – represented.
  • Our team of stars will tell the story of what the summit means apart from the breaking news.
  • For the video, we’re sending a cameraman, producer, and Kasha Patel, who we hired at NASA into our Capital Weather Gang team to do explanatory field stories that we plan to feature and highlight, both on our site and on our Instagram Feed and in Reels, to show people what it looks like and explain what happened in the negotiations that day.
  • For our team on the ground, Joselow will seek to publish the latest news in the Climate 202 newsletter and also provide daily analysis and explanation on the day’s event.

One of our big efforts recently is our late-breaking news centers in London and Seoul, which allow us to distribute news across time zones. This weather coverage fits very well with these breaking news crews, who research the biggest stories that happen while they’re awake and report them for the Post. COP26 is going to be one of the biggest stories in the world.

How will La Poste use its different formats to cover the climate?

We will be doing analysis, explanation, live blogging, updates in our daily Post Reports podcast and on video. We will update our live blog on days with breaking news. Depending on the news, we may use journalists and analysts for live video coverage of the event. We know the audience on Instagram is really consuming the short explainer video we’re making there, so we’re working to bring it to our homepage. The Washington Post Live will continue its long series, with former Vice President Al Gore and others for interviews around COP26.

The FAQs will really help to serve as points of contact. One of the things we’ve talked about a lot is developing service journalism, utilitarian journalism, and explanatory journalism in many areas, and climate is one of them. User-friendly and user-friendly formats like FAQs are very important to people as entry points for this coverage.

How will people be able to find all this coverage?

We will potentially have a live chat with climate journalists to chat with readers about what to expect at COP26. We will have a module on our homepage during the conference, so readers can see the latest news and explanatory coverage to update and answer relevant questions. We will have a landing page that will help people deepen our coverage of COP26.


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