The project, “Bitter Cold: Climate Change, Public Health and Baltimore,” critically examines how climate change and public policy have made the winter months extremely dangerous for residents who struggle to pay heating bills and suffer from other medical conditions.
The investigation is a collaboration between Philip Merrill College of Journalism faculty and students and Wide Angle Youth Media, a Baltimore nonprofit that teaches digital media skills to young city residents.
In four deeply reported stories — focusing on climate, health, people and the city and state safety net — CNS journalists show through words, graphics, photography and video that climate change could mean more periods of extreme cold, how pre-existing medical conditions can make some people more vulnerable to those conditions, how people struggling to pay utility bills try to adapt and the how numerous holes in the city and state safety net are failing that vulnerable population.
A key piece of the project required CNS journalists and Wide Angle Youth Media students to build temperature monitors. Those sensors were placed in about 40 city residents’ homes, where they recorded temperatures during the winter’s coldest days.
Students — Abigail Bentz, Leah Brennan, Joe Catapano, Jake Gluck, Brittany Goodman, Noah Johnson, Danielle Kiefer, Julianna Larsen, HaeMee Lee, Dan Novak, Ian Round, Sydney Wess and Aaron Wilson — were reporters, photojournalists, data analysts, web designers and social media strategists for the project.
Faculty members Brooke Auxier, Sandy Banisky, Josh Davidsburg, Marty Kaiser, Adam Marton, Sean Mussenden and Krishnan Vasudevan were the editors, joined by veteran Baltimore journalist John Fairhall and Wide Angle Youth Media instructor Emma Bergman.
The Online News Association, the Park Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation provided financial support for the project.
For the full list of students, faculty, staff and other partners, see the project’s about page.
The cold investigation is just the beginning. This summer, CNS will partner with NPR, The Baltimore Sun and Wide Angle Youth Media to examine the effects of climate change during periods of extreme heat. The temperature monitors will continue collecting data through the summer’s hottest months.