On 22-23 February WAN-IFRA will host a virtual summit on Journalism and the Climate Crisis. It will feature case studies on how to better tell the story of climate change. As a preview to the subject we’re showcasing a video and tips from mobile journalism expert Yusuf Omar. Pre-register now.

In a recent video, Omar shared five storytelling lessons for engaging young audiences with climate change coverage, drawn from Hashtag Our Stories’ environmental Snapchat show First Person, which was shot using Snapchat spectacles.

Creating inspirational and emotional content 

According to Omar, young viewers are looking for answers and inspiration when it comes to tackling climate change, and want to see examples of what changes others have made to address the problem in their communities.

“When covering environmental stories, consider leading with human, emotional stories before expanding out to the broader narrative,” he said,

New and innovative approaches to climate stories

Stories around upcycling and recycling have proven popular, and are among the easiest stories to produce in the climate space, according to Omar. However, they need to be innovative, as “young people are kind of tired of recycling stories,” Omar said.

“It needs to be new, something they haven’t heard of, and it needs to be emotional.”

Focusing on the right metrics

For Omar, the most valuable form of engagement around climate content is when viewers create their own videos in response to an episode they’ve watched, and share them with their friends to show what they’ve learned, rather than likes, views, comments, and shares, which he refers to as vanity metrics without any real value.

“At the end of the day, people trust people more than brands. People trust their friends to tell them a piece of content is good or important more than they might trust Yusuf Omar to deliver that information,” he said. 

Weaving in climate with other stories

Exploring the intersectionality of environmental content and other areas, such as war, health, food and fashion can help in drawing in a bigger audience.

“A lot of people are interested in environmental content but a lot of people are not,” Omar said. “And if you’re going to explore topics that they are interested in, you can reel them in and expose them to the broader climate story.”

Finding local solutions to global problems 

The climate story is arguably one of the biggest of our time, and impacts all corners of the world. With this in mind, Omar recommends looking for local solutions to global problems.

“There’s a common misconception that American audiences don’t care about international stories and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said.

“We’ve got to always remember that climate change and environmentalism is an international story, and we might find an innovation in India that helps a community in the United States.”


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