Reporting that seeks to empower
Containing epidemics or delivering effective health care. Feeding the world’s growing population as land and water resources become more strained. Lifting some countries out of extreme poverty while stimulating recovery from economic crises in others. Slowing the pace of global warming or providing rapid response to associated natural disasters.
One common element underpins the world’s capacity to address many of the challenges that dominate recent headlines: ensuring universal access to adequate, reliable, affordable and clean energy.
This reality prompted the United Nations to launch the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative. In coupling the universal access goal with targets for improved energy efficiency and more renewables, SE4ALL seeks to meet growing demand for energy while reducing its impacts on the Planet. The timeline of 2030 is ambitious, and explains SE4ALL’s bid to engage all stakeholders in a strategic effort to transform both energy production and consumption.
The Energy Action Project (EnAct) also believes that it’s time for everyone to “get” energy. By creating a space for the energy story, EnAct aims to empower individuals to engage, whether by supporting energy access initiatives or better understanding how human demand for energy drives everything from production to pricing to pollutions levels.
EnAct proposes an online platform, jointly developed by seasoned journalists and energy experts, that capitalizes on the power of multimedia to engage, inform, influence and empower.
Why EnAct? Why now?
The scope and scale of the challenges underlying the universal access goals – and the transformative potential such access represents for individuals and societies – warrants exploring through the lens of independent reportage.
EnAct in unique in that it will use a multimedia format to combine energy reporting with easy access to background material that allows followers to build basic understanding when and as needed. Importantly, EnAct will invite energy experts – from technology, policy, economic and social spheres – to contribute content, promoting more direct communication that meets
the information needs of public audiences.
Each edition will deliver a strategically designed package, comprising the following elements.
Web documentaries will bring into sharp focus the challenges energy poverty creates for individuals and explore the solutions being pursued by energy innovators.
Energy news, delivered in small doses and diverse formats, will examine the context of each web documentary and explore associated issues from multiple perspectives. At the same time, EnAct will investigate why energy challenges – and appropriate solutions – can be dramatically different from one context to another.
Interactive elements and infographics will give EnAct followers a chance to “learn by doing”, and will challenge their beliefs and behaviours. To further build understanding, EnAct will provide easy access to content that demystifies energy and the energy sector.
Opportunities for action will encourage EnAct followers to become energy activists in their own backyards or by supporting action half-way around the world. Reflecting the aims of “impact journalism”, EnAct will seek to measure how access to energy reporting influences followers.
EnAct short brochure →
EnAct full project proposal →
EnAct’s take on the question: “What is energy?”
To demonstrate how EnAct will embed web documentaries into interactive multimedia packages, consider this proposed treatment for engaging the public in learning about energy:
• Web documentary: Follow anthropologist Dr. Stephanie Rupp (City University of New York) as she probes – and maps – how children, teens and adults perceive energy. To draw attention to the project, EnAct will produce a lighthearted trailer with the aim of seeing it go viral, as did First Kiss (68 million views in one week).
• Interactive elements:
– Mapping energy perceptions: EnAct followers will be invited to add their thoughts to Dr. Rupp’s study and see where they fall in relation to other energy users.
– Energy IQ test: In 2002, the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation found that only 12% of US respondents could achieve a passing grade on 17 basic questions about energy. EnAct will create a similar test to assess current understanding, letting respondents compare results.
• Infographics: Solid data, presented in engaging formats, will be core to EnAct. Inequality in Energy will visualize disparities in energy access, much in the style of Wealth Inequality in America, based on research by Harvard economist Dr. Michael Norton.
• Energy reporting in context: To start building basic understanding of energy and the energy sector, this first edition will use feature stories, news articles, editorials, facts sheets, etc. to cover topics such as:
• Types of energy
• Measuring energy / power per unit
• Understanding the energy mix
• Is the world running out of resources?
• What counts as “clean”?
• Transforming the system: low-carbon options; energy efficiency as a fuel source; electrification of the global energy system.
Proposal: What is energy? →