Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Climate change coverage driven by weather, politics

News coverage of climate change could make a comeback in 2013 after three years of decline, but "The media continue to pay it scant attention, and a lot would need to happen in 2013 to change that," Curtis Brainard of Columbia Journalism Review writes. The Daily Climate, a website that tracks media coverage about climate change, found a 2.4 percent drop in coverage last year from 2011. But some media trackers say the number of climate-change stories is slowly increasing.

The University of Colorado's Max Boykoff has tracked climate change coverage in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post since 2000. He found a 42 percent year-to-year increase in climate-change stories at those papers in 2012. Drexel University's Robert Brulle found that NBC, CBS and ABC almost doubled their coverage from 2011 to 2012. "Those numbers are reassuring, especially since they attempt to measure total production at each outlet," Brainard writes.

Though coverage is up, it has not yet reached historically high levels seen in earlier years, according to Brulle. Brulle told Brainard, "What we see is a response to extreme weather, and nothing else. That is because the political elites were silent on climate change. There was nothing to report there. Obama’s silence on climate change shows in the lack of any coverage of the political dynamics of climate change." Boykoff said a "confluence of events, including more action in government, would be necessary to revive the climate story." (Read more)

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