The Media's Coverage of Climate Change

A perspective on the challenges of covering climate change by the media.

by Eric Holdeman / May 11, 2019

I'm about to finish the book that is quoted below. What the author wrote about how the media is challenged to write about the future, rather than the past, and then there is the issue of "what sells" and they are in the business of making money. Interestingly, those who want to deny climate change believe that the mainstream media have been co-opted by "fake science" peddled by pointy-headed liberals. Time will tell who had it right to begin with. On that note: See what Exxon/Mobile says about climate change and the $9B they have invested in emissions reduction.

I'm reading Breaking News: The Remaking of Journalism and Why It Matters Now by Alan Rusbridger and wanted to share this quote with you.

"Maybe it was the unseasonably mild weather outside, but my thoughts turned to climate change. Even the best-intentioned news organisations struggled with the subject. It wasn’t hard to compile a list of reasons why: • With some, it came down to ownership–a sceptical or uninterested proprietor. Or leadership: ‘My editor doesn’t believe in it.’ • Highly regulated or ‘impartial’ organisations (the BBC, for instance) struggled to reflect the weight of scientific agreement while also airing the existence of critical views. 29 • Journalism is better at rear-view mirrors than looking into crystal balls. It’s good at recording what happened yesterday; less comfortable at predicting what might happen in 20 or 30 years’ time. • News thrives on the novel, the changing and the unique. But climate change is always there, and the story varies little from month to month. • There are dramatic stories which are–quite probably–related to climate change. But the best scientists are cautious and meticulous about evidence. Most will be reluctant to attribute specific extraordinary weather-related events (hurricanes, floods, droughts, fires, etc.) to global warming. • Science reporting needs care and expertise. The economic crisis in the press has seen the shedding of knowledgeable specialists and the shrinking of environmental teams. • Many newsrooms are now driven by metrics: what drives traffic? What leads to more subscribers? If not enough people read climate change stories, why run them?"

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