Almost Famous: Pioneers in the Field of Climate and Weather Journalism

In a recent piece, Buzzfeed proclaimed, “The local TV meteorologist is dying, but it’s never been a better time to be a weatherperson.” That’s because of the rise of the internet weatherperson, a one stop shop for all things extreme weather and how it will impact society. And it just so happens that two Climate and Society alumni are leading the way.

Eric Holthaus (C+S ‘06) and Andrew Freedman (C+S ‘09) have been writing for years and developed devoted followings, but recently Slate hired Holthaus and Freedman became Mashable’s first hire for a climate and weather section.

Holthaus, who came to C+S with a meteorology background, started his post C+S career at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI). His writing career began with writing the daily weather for Greater New York for the Wall Street Journal’s Metropolis blog, but he really developed a following during Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy when he relentlessly tweeted rainfall totals, storm surges, power outages, and other impacts from the storms. His tweeting garnered him the nickname “America’s weather boyfriend,” reflecting the mix of expertise and personality needed to thrive in delivering the weather online.

After a stint working on a agriculture development project in Ethiopia, Holthaus made international news in September when he vowed to give up flying after reading the latest IPCC report and realizing he needed to take personal steps to address climate change. Holthaus is now writing daily weather and climate post for Slate. All of these accomplishment recently landed Holthaus in Rolling Stone and the new title of “rebel nerd of meteorology.”

Freedman followed a slightly different path, coming to C+S with a background in weather journalism as a member of the Washington Post’s Capital Gang. He interned at Climate Central during C+S and continued his work there after graduating, focusing on the connections between extreme weather and climate change. However, he recently left for Mashable as the company’s first climate and weather-focused hire.

The C+S program has always prided itself on educating students to be climate communicators. While Holthaus and Freedman are leading the way, there other alumni following the same path. They include Brian Kahn (C+S ‘09), who is currently an editor for Climate Central and a lecturer for C+S and Elisabeth Gawthrop who works in communications at IRI.

With the extreme winter weather being experienced across the US, it’s great to know that many are turning to C+S alum as trusted weather and climate information providers.

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