Today the capital of Denmark will become the centre of the world. But as the Copenhagen climate summit 2009 begins, so does the media coverage – with all its merits and flaws.
It will come as no surprise that however important this summit is for the planet (and I believe it is), only half of the news reports from Copenhagen will be about climate change, global warming and greenhouse gas emissions.
Why? Because when you’re a journalist and you’ve been sent to an event that goes on for ten days, there will be times where finding new topics to report about will lead you down deceiving paths. Mostly, the roads already taken.
While you wait for the world leaders to find some kind of consensus, your newsroom is waiting for… news. And you can only give percentages, talk about who’s there and who’s not and interview scientists so many times.
Of course, there will have to be reports about the security, the activists roaming outside and the planned demonstrations. But once you’ve covered this – and unless of course there’s any unfortunate event in this area – well, you’ll have to find something else to report about (other than the food and accommodation being offered to journalists and delegates – which, frankly, who cares?).
Now let’s see… When Denmark was recently, and once again, elected the happiest place in the world to live, journalists from all over were sent there to find out why. I watched a few of these programs and was stunned by the naïve use of stereotypes.
Ok, so Denmark was the first country in the world to legalize pornography - but that was 50 years ago! Still, journalists find it necessary to state that Danes are all naked on the beaches (women aren’t even topless anymore), that going to swinger clubs is a common thing (certainly no more common than in the UK or France) – oh, and that no one locks their bikes (yeah, right…). Of course, there is also always a mention about same-sex unions (legalized 20 years ago… so, again, old news) and the prams left “unattended” on the sidewalks.
When watching reports from the Copenhagen climate summit these next ten days, you should therefore expect reports about: anything related to sex and nakedness, deprived over-tolerant, over-liberal Danes who drink beer and allow their children to do anything, and probably also bikes (a topic that can be adapted to the summit: massive Danish bike-riding = fight against the worlds global warming). Take all this with a pinch of salt. The “there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark” was a concept Shakespeare invented some 400 years ago, without ever visiting the country.
I hear now on the radio that the Copenhagen climate summit has officially opened. And media coverage has begun: today, you can read and hear about prostitutes offering free sex to UN-delegates in Copenhagen. So much for global warming.