The Independent is pleased to announce that journalist Jenn Thornhill Verma is joining the Oxford Climate Journalism Network in July. Verma reports on fisheries and oceans for The Independent, which is a trailblazer in Canadian independent journalism, publishing out of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador since 2003. 

In Newfoundland and Labrador, rural, remote and urban Indigenous and settler communities are scattered along a patchwork of rugged coastline and interior waterways. In a sub-Arctic and northern region, exposed to the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, our province experiences climate changes, often before other parts of Canada and North America. Those changes come in the form of weakening sea ice, warming waters and threatened biodiversity—which impact the very ways of life that have defined this land. 

In a new monthly fisheries and oceans explainer series called Seasplainer, Verma and The Independent are tackling issues like this which are of crucial importance in our province and country. Canada is a country of coastlines—the largest on the planet. The magnitude of that coastline is overshadowed by the knowledge of those who call these lands and waterways home. And yet, there’s limited reporting from coastal regions and even less so from the people living there.

“In my reporting, I strive to relay the real-time coastal consequences of climate change from local peoples’ firsthand experiences while also relaying the best-available evidence. Participating in this network will help me to up my game on reporting in an impactful way—relaying local experiences with global relevance,” says Verma.

“This is a very exciting development,” says Drew Brown, The Independent’s editor-in-chief. “Jenn’s participation in the Oxford Climate Journalism Network means recognition and support for the excellent work she does covering fisheries and oceans—and a boost for The Independent’s efforts to bring more incisive, climate-focused reporting to Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Jenn Thornhill Verma is an investigative journalist, and her work is often sourced from those wearing the boots in the boats where the story is happening. Verma has extensively reported on the 1992 cod moratorium, when the federal government closed the commercial cod fishery—see her reporting for The IndependentThe Globe and MailThe Narwhal and her book, Cod Collapse, which was nominated in 2021 for a historical nonfiction award. For The IndependentThe Globe and Mail (most recently here), and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). She has also reported on weakening sea ice and warming trends (atmospheric and ocean) of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, drawing on 100 years of climate data. Verma also works as the Executive Lead for the secretariat of the Global Commission on Evidence to Address Societal Challenges.

The Oxford Climate Journalism Network is a new program at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford. The mission of this six-month virtual program is to help journalists and editors develop their coverage of climate change, and support leaders in identifying the issues involved in reporting on the climate crisis. Verma is joining the second cohort of the network, which begins in July 2022.

Follow Jenn on Twitter.