Climate and The Funnel


Last Wednesday (16th Oct 2019) the Guardian’s editor-in-chief published the following climate pledge

Today we pledge to give the climate crisis the attention it demands

At the Guardian we believe the climate crisis is the most urgent issue of our times. And we know that Guardian readers are equally passionate about the need for governments, businesses and individuals to take immediate action to avoid a catastrophe for humanity and for the natural world.

Today the Guardian is making a pledge to our readers that we will play our part, both in our journalism and in our own organisation, to address the climate emergency. We hope this underlines to you the Guardian’s deep commitment to quality environmental journalism, rooted in scientific fact….

…We now have dedicated reporters around the world, including in the US, the biggest carbon polluter on the globe; Australia, the biggest exporter of coal and liquid natural gas; and Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro has disputed that climate is a factor as fires rage in the Amazon….

In her speech to Congress in September, Greta Thunberg said: “This is the moment in history when we need to be wide awake.”

I agree. And my pledge today is that the Guardian will give the climate crisis the attention it demands – and deliver our open independent reporting to everyone.

There are a few things here.

  • Least you wonder … yes, they are committed to not simply reporting on climate, but have also committed as an organisation to achieve net zero emissions by 2030
  • Even prior to this they were already clearly making an impact – Last week they published a global investigative series, The Polluters, examining how just 20 companies are responsible for more than a third of all global emissions. This week they have published a very comprehensive analysis on what is going on in Australia (More on that below).

Words Matter

Related to this they also published on that same day, the 16th, a new glossary titled “Guardian language changes on climate matters“. The essence of it is this …

  • “climate emergency” or “climate crisis” to be used instead of “climate change”
    • Climate change is no longer considered to accurately reflect the seriousness of the overall situation
  • “climate science denier” or “climate denier” to be used instead of “climate sceptic”
    • The OED defines a sceptic as “a seeker of the truth; an inquirer who has not yet arrived at definite conclusions”. Most “climate sceptics”, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, deny climate change is happening, or is caused by human activity, so ‘denier’ is more accurate
  • Use “global heating” not “global warming”
  • “greenhouse gas emissions” is preferred to “carbon emissions” or “carbon dioxide emissions”
    • this term recognises all of the climate-damaging gases, including methane, nitrogen oxides, CFCs etc
  • Use “wildlife”, not “biodiversity”
    • We felt that ‘wildlife’ is a much more accessible word
  • Use “fish populations” instead of “fish stocks”
    • This change emphasises that fish do not exist solely to be harvested by humans

Their Big Climate Story This week – Stripped bare: Australia’s hidden climate crisis

This is not your usual article, but instead is a very comprehensive investigation by a team of four journalists. Be warned, it is also a long read and includes some very good graphics.

The essence of it is this …

Australia is among the 11 worst countries when it comes to deforestation, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Queensland has the highest clearing rate but NSW is rapidly becoming a hotspot.

“Land clearance and degradation is one of the greatest crises facing Australia and the world,” says Bill Hare, the chief executive and senior scientist with Berlin-based Climate Analytics. “It undermines the basis for food production, is causing species loss and ecological decline, destroys climate resilience, degrades water resources and reverses carbon storage on the land.”

“I am pretty despairing. There is so much science to tell us what we need to be doing and they totally ignore it.”

It is not only very comprehensive and detailed, but this is also a very important article. I can highly recommend investing a bit of time reading it. You will drop out the other side far better informed.

At the bottom they also have 4 more related articles that dig into it all in even more detail.

What Is Going on Here? – It is the Funnel

Applause worthy as all this is, it is also all Business-School 101.

With the rise of the internet the print media faces a huge challenge. We don’t buy print media to the degree that we once did, and so how do Media publishers survive?

There are basically two common models …

  • Paywalls and premium content for those that subscribe … this is most of the big name papers
  • Click-bait and lots of ads … this is all the tabloids

For the Guardian it is neither. Instead they have opted to focus on the things that truly matter and to openly produce a rich source of deep quality original and generally evidence-based information that is designed to inspire loyalty and motivate supporters/subscribers to support them. In other words, their model is the classical Funnel.

What is the Funnel?

  • At the top you have vast numbers of readers. They see a tweet and click a link to read an article. It is a very loose connection and they may have never encountered the outlet before
  • The goal is to move those people down the funnel by increasing their connection and commitment to the outlet by offering email newsletters, and/or podcasts that are of interest to them
  • Offer sufficient value and they will keep coming back, and may even pay to support you

Basically each stage reduces the numbers … Monthly unique visitors > repeat visitors > daily visitors > paid members or subscribers, hence the common term is “The Funnel. Paywalls around premium content is the most common variation, but they have opted to remain open and simply ask readers to support them.

Climate is indeed the greatest threat our species has ever faced, and so the creation of a reliable source of insights into what is actually happening does indeed warrant our support.

I have no financial interest in promoting them, nor have they asked me to do so. The topic of climate is one that many are truly passionately concerned about, hence finding and supporting a reliable source of information does justify seriously considering supporting them

If interested in doing so then you can contribute to their journalistic work … via here … or simply become a subscriber … via here.

Personally I think that the importance of what they are focusing on does deserve your support.

Further Reading – Climate specific Guardian articles

Guardian Articles and statements …

2 thoughts on “Climate and The Funnel”

  1. Yes words do matter like telling the lie that 97% of scientists agree …..duh its called climate change something that has been around for along time .Doesn’t this speak volumes? We must change what we say and how we say it? It is because the earth will not end in 12 years , we do not have to be carbon neutral by 2030. This fear mongering and control has been going on for decades in this country with no end of time near.

    • Translation: “I’ve decided to ignore all the evidence and every single credible scientific body and educational institution on the planet, then use a few straw man arguments to pretend that all is well

      Good luck with that anonymous.


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