Washington Post's Margaret Sullivan challenges journalists to bolster climate change coverage

In this June 15, 2014 photo provided by the United States Geological Survey, a polar bear rests on a chunk of sea ice in the Arctic.

New York (CNN Business)A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

The only story that matters?

The dire new report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says governments around the world must take "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society" to avoid disastrous levels of global warming.
    To cover this emergency, "journalists and news organizations all over the world — but especially in America — need their own transformation," Margaret Sullivan writes in her newest WaPo media column.
    Let me do something unusual and quote her at length: National news outlets gave the report "prominent attention" on Monday, she says, "but it will need sustained emphasis, by the media and the public, all over the world, if we stand a chance of maintaining a livable planet..."
    "There is just so much happening at every moment, so many trees to distract from the burning forest behind them." But "this subject must be kept front and center, with the pressure on and the stakes made abundantly clear at every turn..."
    Her bottom line: "We need to figure out how to make the main thing matter...Just as the smartest minds in earth science have issued their warning, the best minds in media should be giving sustained attention to how to tell this most important story in a way that will create change."

    A timely report

    The PBS "NewsHour" had a (nine minute long!) piece on Monday night that was perfectly timed to the new climate report. Correspondent John Yang visited Tangier Island, a Chesapeake Bay island "that is shrinking as the sea rises," with Earl Swift, author of a new book about the island, "Chesapeake Requiem." BTW, I read the book over the summer and highly recommend it...

    Hurricane warnings

    Ahead of Hurricane Florence, there were many days of warnings -- and many days of live shots with correspondents glowing in the sun before the storm arrived. But Hurricane Michael is different. Many Americans just heard about this storm for the first time on Sunday. It only reached hurricane strength on Monday morning. And it's expected to make landfall as a "major" hurricane, i.e. category 3 or higher, on Wednesday. The NBC, ABC and CBS nightly newscasts all led with hurricane preps. CNN.com has a live blog with updates here...

    "The free world deserves answers" about Khashoggi

    Unfortunately there was not a lot of new information about missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Monday.
    Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the US, Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, vehemently denied the claims that Khashoggi had been killed or detained in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. "There are many facts regarding his whereabouts that will hopefully be revealed through the ongoing investigation," he said.
    On Monday evening, President Trump commented for the first time... He said he is "concerned" about the reports of Khashoggi's disappearance... "I don't like hearing about it and hopefully that will sort itself out..."
    VP Mike Pence had a more presidential response, via Twitter: "Violence against journalists across the globe is a threat to freedom of the press & human rights. The free world deserves answers." Here's CNN's latest story about the case...

    FOR THE RECORD, PART ONE

    -- Correction: Last night I mistyped the name for CPJ. It's the Committee to Protect Journalists...
      -- "Arnold Kopelson, the Oscar-winning producer of 'Platoon' and 'The Fugitive' and former longtime CBS board member, has died. He was 83." (LAT)