Media Reporting of the Climate Train

Sorry, I haven't had time yet to sort out the images and bookmarks in this chapter

General Summary

Dani Kaye ,SGR’s Press Officer planned and co-ordinated the publicity for the Climate Train. In June she began the campaign to bring the Climate Train into the public eye, with dozens of phone-calls to systematically selected targets - i.e., the major national and international newspapers, science publications, organisations like the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) and ITV (Independent Television channel in the UK), and radio stations - both national and local. This yielded a preliminary list of individuals interested in receiving regular information about the project. Over the Internet, colleagues and interested parties were asked to volunteer to forward news releases to local outlets and to help with international dissemination, while mailing lists of other organisations were plundered for possible recipients. The first press release was issued when we were relatively certain that funding would be adequate to send at least a few people to Kyoto overland. The list of organisations requesting regular updates swelled into the hundreds. There were volunteers in Germany, France, the USA and the Philippines who were accepting our press releases, and translating them if necessary before disseminating them to their various areas. In the case of the Philippine correspondent our releases were going to all the major TV, radio and press outlets in the Pacific arena, including Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. A number of schools in New Jersey, USA, followed the Climate Train and held parallel ‘Climate Change negotiations’ as part of an educational programme on Global Warming. A celebrity endorsement was also obtained from Ben Elton.

Whilst on board the train, and at Kyoto updates from train members were sent by fax and email to Dani, who then disseminated them to various agencies for example the Press Association, Rochdale Observer Group, Science News Agency, Eco-Logica Ltd, Union Pictures and UK News and many others amongst her long list of contacts. Regular new updates and later photographs were also put on the Climate Train web page. However there were so many parallel events in Kyoto keeping us busy all over the city that it was hard to find spare moments to sit and write as many emails as Dani would have liked, and even then it was not easy to find a spare computer in the NGO event hall. Below Dani Kaye gives her general conclusions on the process from her end of the line:

"As a person who 'stayed at home' I had difficulty in trying to get coherent, consistent input regarding the journey for dissemination to press/media contacts. An official press officer/contact on the trip, and regular reporting of events, would have been ideal. For the same reason it would have been good to have had one overarching 'ethos'/ point of view/ 'cause' for the whole group, as opposed to the many conflicting attitudes which became apparent once the Climate Train arrived in Kyoto. That would make it easier to create a strong image for passing on to the press, especially when one is trying to win across a point of view, a 'global message'. Also I cannot say that any of my contacts were as interested in the actions as they were in the thoughts/reactions from the CT participants to developments in the conference"

Several members of the group were also sending information back to contacts in their own countries, for example Sergey Pashenko and Yuri Doublianski regularly reported to newspapers and television stations in Novosibirsk, Oras Tynkkynen sent reports to colleagues in Finland, and Wolfgang Pomrehn, Berthold van Maris, and Sun Yu, who all work as freelance journalists, sent many reports to their colleagues at home.

Summary of media coverage

Coverage in Newspapers and Journals

Both Dani Kaye in the UK, and our colleagues in the Cool Action Kobe and ASEED Japan, tried to collect press clippings and gossip of other reports about the Climate Train from around the world.

Many Japanese newspapers covered our arrival in Kobe (published the next morning on 27th November), with photographs of us carrying many bags off the ferry and later singing our climate song in the "save the climate" T-shirts at the welcome party in Genki village. These include Kobe News, Yomiuri, Sankei, and Nihon Keizai.

An article also appeared in the Japanese Environmental Times and in many other papers - some of us have newspaper clippings which we carefully took home, yet now, not reading Japanese, it is hard for us to identify where they come from, such as these photographs of our aircraft action shown below.

Asahi -a widely read national paper, covered us twice -both on 30th November when we arrived in Kyoto after our bicycle journey, and again a week later when a full colour page spread all about the Climate Train appeared -shown overleaf reduced in size. Notice Christina making the frame for the aircraft to be used in the action, Tatiana meditating, and Michelle designing a leaflet on the computer.

This photographer must have done well because her photograph of us cycling out of the temple appeared in many different newspapers, including the English-language "Kansai News". Michelle Valentine recalls:

"The amount of media interest we received in Japan was astonishing. Journalists were keen to photograph our actions. They also wanted to film us in the temple, even eating and sleeping, and especially meditating in true Zen fashion. Perhaps they were pleased that unlike many convention delegates staying in modern international hotels, we were appreciating real Japanese culture. However several of us were unsure about this since we thought it intrusive and worried that it may give the impression we were not serious about what we were doing regarding climate change. The problem mainly arose because we did not have a tight media strategy and did not agree upon what kind of coverage we wanted or cross-check our answers to questions. Ben and I were very pleased with the picture of us going by bicycle to the Convention, that showed exactly the kind of message we wanted to put across, as did the photographs of us working in the temple and our actions"

Thanks to Dani’s efforts, and also many articles sent by Richard Scrase, coverage of the Climate Train was especially good in UK newspapers, and journals. All the major broadsheets, The Independent, The Guardian , The Times and The Observer, all covered us, as did the The Times Higher Education Supplement. . Local newspaper articles included those in The Bath Chronicle, The Bristol Evening Post, Wandsworth Borough News, and The Eastern Daily Press,.

There were also many articles in journals, including New Scientist, and New Internationalist .

Articles also appeared in many more specialist publications such as Green Futures, Green World (UK Green Party Newspaper), The Planet on Sunday, Positive News, Peace News, Journal of Engineers and Architects for Social Responsibility, and Ziggurat (UEA journal).

Many Russian newspapers told the story of our Novosibirsk conference on the "Role of Siberia in the Global Climate", including Sovyetskaya Sibir ("Soviet Siberia"), Chestnoye Slovo ("Honest Word"). One "economic" newspaper Rossiskaya Avia even published the full text of the conference "resolution", similar to the one translated into English earlier in this report. The top half of this is shown above

The Social Ecological Union also sent out a press release, the top of which is shown below, to many Moscow newspapers. Although many reporters turned up to interview us at our press conference, we were not able to find out later how much coverage there had been.

Wolfgang Pomrehn also wrote many articles for Neues Deutschland in Germany, where there were also articles in GreenCity News, and Zuendfunk Magazine

In the USA articles about the Climate Train appeared in the Washington Post and the New York Academy of Science Journal. In Southern Asia it was covered in the newspaper ‘South’.

There were probably many many more articles in the USA and other countries, particularly following our television coverage, but as we had nobody there to collect them we may never hear of many of these. Here Ben Matthews describes one unexpected example from China:

"When Sean, Michelle and I took the train from Tianjin to Qingdao after coming back from Kyoto, the guy sharing our compartment asked, as is customary, what we were doing here in China. When I started to explain how we had come on the train all the way across Russia to the Climate Convention in Japan, he said he knew all about us - we were famous! He had read about our Climate Train in the Tianjin newspapers. I guess this was a result of the journalists who came and grabbed me while I was trying to get 101 bags through customs in the ferry terminal (not the best moment to give an interview!) - Although Tianjin is a city of 10 million people, we hadn’t known how to contact their local newspapers in advance, so probably this media coverage had been promoted by the ferry company who also gave us great garlands of flowers as we entered the ship."

There was also much reporting of the Climate Train’s on the internet, for example on One-World online and Worldnet as well as links to our own web page.

Television and Radio Coverage

We had hoped that a long television report would be made of our Climate Train, and before departure Dani Kaye persued many media contacts to try and secure a deal with an interested TV company. Several small companies were interested but later pulled out because they were worried about the expense and technical difficulties of sending a camera crew on the journey (not least the problem of visas!). However at the eleventh hour ITV’s Channel Four News (mainstream UK televison channel) confirmed their intention to film both the Climate Train and the Siberian forest fires in Novosibirsk. Reporter Andrew Veitch and cameraman Malcolm Hicks flew out to join the group as the train arrived in Novosibirsk. Initially they filmed the dramatic scene of peat fires in the forest near the city, accompanied by a face to face interview with Sergey Pashenko and local officials. The two then joined us on the train as far as Beijing, and took some footage of the Climate Train on the move, including an interview with Ben Matthews on the train. The finished 15-minute report was sent from Beijing, to emphasise China’s key role in the Climate negotiations. It made the leading Channel 4 News story in the UK on the first night of the Climate Convention in Kyoto, leading to an interview with Deputy Prime-Minister John Prescott. Many of our friends back at home were most impressed. A slightly differently edited version of the report was also networked widely across the USA, as Ben Matthews recalls:

"I was particularly surprised to receive an email on the second day in the COP from my uncle in New York, who told me he had just seen me on the television news, in a train rattling across through the forests of Siberia. I actually saw the film a few days later when Andy Veitch showed it to us at the Convention, and found that in the editing they had focussed on my brief comment about Bill Clinton and Mississipi floods, rather than my attempts to explain biogeochemical climate feedbacks and the ecobalance of travelling by train rather than flying. So even such friendly reporters pick out only the stories they think are already in the news, but at least that way it reached a wide audience, and I hope it was fairly obvious why we had made such a journey. Anyway it was the fires in Siberian forests which really made the headline story -and rightly so".

A similar report by the Novosibirsk State Television-Radio Company, showing Sergei Pashenko explaining about the forest fires and our Climate Conference in Novosibirsk, was networked on Russian television channels 10 and 12. Later, when we were in Kyoto, the Siberians invited Igor Khorev and Valeri Vinogradov from the Russian State Radio and Broadcasting Company to our temple to interview the members of the Climate Train.. The Social Ecological Union had also ensured that our press conference in Moscow had featured in various reports.

Meanwhile back in London Phil Webber and Tim Foxon made a live interview on BBC television 24hr news, on the strength of Scientists for Global Responsibility’s high media profile during the COP as organisers of the Climate Train.

After we returned in January Richard Scrase appeared on BBC TV South West and also gave a series of interviews over several days to his local radio stations, for example BBC Wiltshire, and BBC Bristol as well as to the national radio programme BBC Radio 5 Live. The Climate Train was also mentioned in many other television programmes around the world, for example "Tommorow’s World": (UK) and "Vechernii Novosibirsk" (Evening Novosibirsk).

Our actions in Kyoto itself also attracted a lot of televsion cameras, as Zuzanna Iskierka describes:

I was happy when we did the Esso action and I went to pick up journalists, and there were about thirty of them!, and the story went onto CNN and Austrian TV at least.

Film of The Climate Train

We also had our own cameraman travelling with us (Richard Schofield) who took many hours of footage during the whole journey. He had hoped to sell this to an independent environmental television company and posted the best tapes to them in Tokyo but for some reason this deal fell through. Although some of the footage has already been used in a few minute montage for the 1998 Brighton Festival.

However we need to secure additional funding to cover the costs of editing this footage and producing our own documentary film about the journey which would explain the reasons for travelling by train and boat, the "ecobalance" calculation, our experiences from the journey, and the issues raised by our conferences.

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