Podcast art by Katelyn Curtis
In the fourth episode of this season’s Pull Quotes, investigative climate reporter Geoff Dembicki spoke with Gabe Oatley, the podcast’s editor and co-host, about his recent VICE story, How a married undercover cop having sex with activists killed a climate movement.
“He’s an agent of the state and he’s coercing women into sexual relationships that they don’t have the ability to fully consent to.”Geoff Dembicki
This season’s podcast takes you behind the scenes of Canada’s top long-form stories. In this episode, Dembicki talks about what motivated him to tell his story—a desire to offer a glimpse into how policing and climate justice movements are connected.
He describes attending protests in the summer of 2020, after George Floyd’s murder, and hearing activists talk about the links between “police oppression and the climate emergency,” he says. He knew the topic was important, but wasn’t sure how to tell a story that linked the two.
In early 2021, Dembicki was in a pitch meeting with his editor at VICE, who asked for proposals for long-form climate stories. He recalled the story about Mark Kennedy, an undercover cop who had infiltrated U.K. climate movements—a story that had gotten considerable play in the U.K., but hadn’t been widely circulated in Canada or the United States. Dembicki pitched a feature on this story, focusing on the impact of Kennedy’s policing on U.K. climate movements—an angle that hadn’t gotten much attention. His editor was keen on the piece and Dembicki got to work.
In the interview, the freelance climate reporter describes his approach to offering anonymity to sources and to interviewing sources who have been through traumatic experiences. He also shares his perspective on why writing opinion articles about the climate hasn’t hurt his prospects as a reporter, but has actually helped build a larger audience for his features.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Gabe Oatley, editor and co-host
Rahaf Farawi, producer and co-host
Andrew Oliphant, guest producer
Annika Forman, guest producer
Geena Mortfield, fact checker
Sonya Fatah, executive producer
About the author
Gabe Oatley is Managing Editor (Podcast) at the Review of Journalism.