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Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Shape of Climate Coverage to Come

Source: guardian.co.uk
Last year, before joining Sustainability Consult, I wrote in this blog about how media coverage of climate change had dropped dramatically since its peak in 2009.  Media organisation Daily Climate found that globally coverage decreased a further 2% in 2012.  However, analysis conducted by other researchers found that reporting on climate change actually went up last year in some sections of the US press.  Coverage on US TV news networks also doubled compared to the previous year.  So will this trend continue in 2013?

Academic Max Boykoff argues that climate change coverage falls into four categories - political, scientific, meteorological and cultural.  When events cross over more than one of these categories, more attention is given to them.  For example, the upcoming publication of the IPCC Fifth Assessment climate report will probably lead to increased public discussion.  Boykoff believes that the climate story will continue to cross these boundaries and that we could be in for an “interesting year” of reporting in 2013.

Nevertheless, stories of job cuts in newspapers offices paint a less optimistic picture of the future.  Earlier this year, Carbon Brief reported on the redundancies faced by climate change journalists in a few mainstream media publications.  The New York Times dismantled its environment desk in January and two months later it also cancelled its Green blog which led to widespread criticism.

Last year’s Bloomberg Businessweek’s cover following Hurricane Sandy was arguably climate change coverage’s most iconic image.  Extreme weather is being increasingly linked to climate change in the media, in line with the science.  Therefore, let us hope that fewer dedicated environmental journalists does not lead to a decrease in the quantity and quality of reporting.

Blog by Bárbara Mendes-Jorge

If, like me, you are interested in keeping an eye on global media coverage of climate change, the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research update this useful graph every month.

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