Executive Editor Dan Crowley: New initiative aims to tell the story of our time — the climate crisis

  • GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Published: 9/22/2022 9:24:24 PM

In March 2021 and one year into the pandemic, the Gazette held two virtual community forums to provide the public an opportunity to meet our news team and ask us questions. At the time, we all had been through a lot.

These were productive sessions as we listened to the ideas, observations and suggestions voiced by subscribers. It was encouraging to hear how much many of you care about this local newspaper and the work that we do.

We learned that there are still a wide range of issues that you want us to cover and explain, whether it be local government, education, business, sports, the arts, or stories about the interesting people and places that populate our neighborhoods, cities and towns. One topic — the climate crisis or climate change — kept resurfacing during those conversations. We made a note of it, and like any intrepid reporter might do, started a file.

Special projects or deeper-dive reporting require time, resources and an editorial commitment. I am proud of the work our news team has been able to accomplish during these past two years of societal upheaval brought by the pandemic. The public health crisis delivered its own unique set of challenges for newsgathering and our reporters, editors and photographers have done their very best to tell that story. But if we were to tell another sweeping story, the one of our changing climate and how it is impacting and unfolding in our own backyard, we needed a little boost to get us there.

Last year, in collaboration with the Local Media Foundation, the Gazette, along with its sister papers, the Greenfield Recorder and Athol Daily News, launched a community fundraising campaign through the 2021 Local News Fund. The aim was to help fund “Climate Change at Home,” a special reporting project that begins tomorrow in the weekend editions of all three newspapers and online. The series, which also is being sponsored by Whalen Insurance of Northampton, will run through the remainder of the year.

Our goal is to chronicle the important work being done at the local level in the fight against climate change and how our changing environment is impacting our lives, work and priorities in the Connecticut River Valley. You will hear from scientists and environmental experts, farmers and activists, educators and organizations. You also will hear the stories of your neighbors, including our next generation youth, and the actions being taken on a personal level and in government.

This expanded coverage will appear weekly under our “Climate Change at Home” logo, in print and online. We also are launching a biweekly podcast series hosted by Amrita Acharya, a podcaster and senior at Smith College. The podcast, available on gazettenet.com, recorder.com, and atholdailynews.com, begins Saturday and explores the perspectives and work of those committed to addressing climate change and who seek to make a difference in the Valley and beyond.

In addition to the podcast and stories from our own news teams, we have been able to bolster our coverage with contributing writers and experts on the subject of climate change. Our opinion page remains a welcome venue for those who want to contribute to the discussion and we also encourage story ideas on this topic. Story tips can be sent to newsroom@gazettenet.com.

We are grateful to those who have backed this project financially and who value original reporting as well as those who support the Gazette through subscriptions and in other ways. The support is meaningful and gives our team confidence as we do the essential work of delivering the daily news and keeping you informed while also helping tell one of the major stories of our time.

Dan Crowley is the Pioneer Valley executive editor.
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