14 Oct 2022

Media Network: COP27 Special: What the major media players are planning

Welcome to the MHP Mischief Media Network bulletin. Our unrivalled team of former journalists and media experts bring you the latest insights behind the headlines. Last year the UK hosted the UN’s Climate Change Conference for the first time, in Glasgow for COP26. Next month,world leaders head to Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, for COP27. The MHP Media Network spoke to some of the UK’s leading journalists to get the inside scoop on their plans to cover it.

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“There are lots of small COPs, this is one of those” 

By Keith Gladdis, former Executive News Editor of the Daily Mail 

Ben Spencer, the Science Editor of the Sunday Times will be in Sharm El-Sheikh to cover the second week of COP27.

He says: The Sunday Times is interested in COP27 but it coincides with the G20 and US mid-terms, so there will be a lot of geopolitics to compete with.

“COP27 is also a completely different proposition in a different era. COP26 was a major event – it was meant to be the ‘implementation COP’ – the one to bring home the Paris agreement of COP21. Not all COPS are like that. COP3 in Kyoto in 1997 was big, COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009 was big, COP21 in Paris was big, COP26 was big. There are a lot of small ones in between – COP27 is one of those.

“COP26 also coincided with a high-water mark of interest in climate change. The invasion of Ukraine and the global energy crisis has meant there are now other priorities.

“For brands to get cut through around COP27 they need to offer something that has a real impact on the public.

“But beware of greenwashing, it’s a big issue. Hypocrisy always makes for good stories. Backing up statements with real substance is key – don’t just say what you’re going to do, say how you’re going to do it and back it up with evidence.”

Sky News continues to lead climate coverage

Charlotte Grant, former ITN reporter looks at how Sky News plans to cover COP27

Sky News is sending two teams to Egypt and will be pre-filming some pieces beforehand.

Over the past two years, Sky News has led the way on climate coverage with the launch of their ‘Daily Climate Show,’ the first daily news show dedicated to climate change, as well as their pop-up channel ‘Climate Live’ during COP26. We can expect Sky News to maintain their commitment to the subject.

As the first African COP, it’s likely the issue of what’s “fair” will come into play, especially in terms of loss and damage. Have the main emitters like India, China, Australia and the USA honoured last year’s promises? From a UK perspective, could the government be preparing for reduced UK ambitions for net zero? And what is the impact of the Ukraine war – is it causing a realignment of energy strategy with negative environmental consequences, from more coal burning for example, or could there be more positive implications like a greater focus on solar and wind?

Hannah Thomas-Peter will be leading Sky’s coverage of COP. We’ve been told it’s never too early to start sending pitches to her.   

The Guardian will pay close attention to COP27’s business agenda

By James Rollinson  

Speaking earlier this week, Alex Lawson, The Guardian’s energy editor, said that the paper is focusing heavily on the lead up to COP27, and want to highlight its importance to their readers.

The Guardian always sends their environment team to COP, and this year Alex is interested in the business side of the conference. Specifically, he will be following:

  • What is on the agenda for British companies, and what are they looking to push at COP
  • How much progress British businesses have made in the past 12 months
  • How does Britain compare to other countries on progress

Perhaps unsurprisingly given its location, Alex doesn’t get the sense that the public are as interested in COP this year, with minds focused on financial and political issues.

The team are still on the lookout for brands using COP27 as an opportunity to Greenwash though, and will expose any opportunistic behaviour.

And in non-COP27 related news…

Global appeal is the key for landing stories with Insider

With the world moving again following the Covid-19 pandemic, MHP Mischief’s Miles Watson spoke to Insider transport reporter Stephen Jonesabout the stories he is looking to write.  

What makes for a successful Insider story?

The majority of our audience is US-based so any story needs to have a global appeal. For example, if I’m writing a story about the Elizabeth Line, I might instead frame it as ‘London’s new $25 billion underground line’. There’s no hard or fast rule, but it’s vital that our readers can relate to the stories we cover.

Our readers are very consumer-focused rather than business-focused, they want to understand how a business decision or company results could impact their lives. It’s important to attract them through bold but realistic facts and figures and also be able to provide some techy elements too.

Stories which are visually appealing also do really well, so we like to see photos. One thing that I’m always keen to do is factory visits or be able to ‘go behind the scenes’ of a brand or a product. Our audience love to have access to things they wouldn’t see usually.

Where do you see transport stories going?

This summer’s ‘Travel chaos’ – and telling the story of how the global travel industry is interconnected where issues in one part of the network can have knock-on impacts on the other side of the word – will continue to garner interest for at least the next 12 months; the problems are structural and will not be resolved overnight. Otherwise, future-gazing stories, looking at the EV boom, or the potential of automated vehicles will always attract mine and our readers’ eye.

“What is ITVX and what does it mean for news content?”

Ahead of ITVX’s launch in November, Charlotte Grant, spoke to Hannah Emerson-Thomas, Editor of ITV News London and launching News on ITVX.  

What is ITVX and how will it work?

ITVX will replace the ITV Hub and ITV Hub +. It’s a free streaming service that will be available on smart TVs, laptops, tablets and mobile. Many original commissions will be available first on ITVX, and at least one premium programme or series will be launched each week of the year.

The free to watch content will include our ITV News service, which will take a prominent place on the ITVX portal.

From a news perspective, what will it mean for viewers?

We want to deliver a news service to ITVX 24/7, but this does not mean we are trying to create a rolling news channel on ITVX.

There will be a number of windows which viewers can scroll through and click on if they’re interested in watching, and crucially be the same original, impartial and accurate journalism our viewers have come to expect.

We’ll have a regular news bulletin of the main stories of the day, updated whenever a story changes or a new story breaks. We also hope to have explainers for our viewers too on what certain news stories mean for them and their families.

Will you be looking for more news content? What sort of stories will you be looking for?

We want to make sure we are covering a wealth of stories across the country and the globe. We aren’t going to be covering ‘different’ news to our linear programmes, it’ll be the same editorial standards we already closely follow at ITV News. We’re always interested in politics, health, education and consumer stories – human interest stories basically. And of course - strong picture stories.

BBC regional news – why local matters to communicators

By Ian Kirby, former political editor, News of the World

The recent skewering of new Prime Minister Liz Truss on BBC local radio was a brutal reminder that we are blessed with many talented and fearless regional journalists across the UK.

Rhodri Talfan Davies, director of BBC Nations, runs the Beeb’s regional coverage. He said of his journalists: “They can lay out the facts impartially and dispassionately – and ensure local voices are at the heart of the debate.”

Regional news can be a better way to reach audiences than many prime-time news programmes or newspapers. Each week 20 million people access local news via the BBC, the 6.30pm BBC regional news slot is watched by four to five million every day.

Crucially, as our consumption of news via the web and social media has exploded, these audience numbers have largely stayed stable for a decade.

Despite cuts across BBC News, the Corporation has been quietly investing in its regional political coverage, employing a dozen TV political editors and another 43 radio political reporters.

While overall headcount is falling, local specialists on topics like business and home affairs are also increasing, as are investigative resources through the Local Democracy programme.

“We don’t want to be a paper that complains”

By Abigail Smith

Jamie Nimmo – Associate Business Editor at the Sunday Times – spoke earlier this week abut the importance of keeping conversations moving in a polarised political climate.

He said his editor is “obsessed” with solutions-based reporting and suggested that there is a gap in the market for this type of journalism, which the Sunday Times is eager to fill. This leaves the door open for brands that are willing to go the extra mile to help their customers.

Thanks to the Sunday papers’ longer lead times, Jamie and his team like to weigh up all aspects of a story, while others chase the headlines during the week. This often leads to longer, more in-depth pieces, which is always worth bearing in mind for anyone with a meaty story to land.

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