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The Climate Change Controversy

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Part of the Palgrave Studies in Media and Environmental Communication book series (PSMEC)

Abstract

Climate change is the most serious issue of our time and yet it is deeply contested. Journalists face significant challenges in sustaining coverage of this complex field of science. Once at pains to state their role as ‘impartial’ commentators, media professionals have become increasingly embroiled in the debate. This chapter examines how climate change has been framed over time within the news media and which voices have been treated as credible and authoritative sources. The media, particularly television, provide a key source of information for publics on climate science (Boykoff & Boykoff, 2007). Important questions are raised concerning objectivity and trust in the communication of controversial science. The news media have been blamed both for exaggerating and underestimating the risks of climate change. This chapter explores how far the news media have faithfully reported climate science raising important questions concerning objectivity and trust in the communication of controversial science. It surveys research conducted in a range of international contexts, supplemented by the author’s own findings drawn from an analysis of UK national press coverage of the Rio+20 summit in 2012, and interviews with national print journalists and broadcasters. The analysis suggests that there is little direct correspondence between scientific knowledge of climate change, and prominence and framing of climate science within the news media.

Keywords

  • Climate Change
  • Global Warming
  • Media Outlet
  • News Coverage
  • Network Society

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

I think climate change is the biggest under-reported, or unreported story of our times … and yet if you look around, then the critical evidence suggests that not only are the effects of climate change already being felt, they are (worsening) within the next few years.

(Daniel Kalinaki, cited in Corner, 2011: 19)

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  • DOI: 10.1057/9781137314086_4
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Further reading

  • Anderson, A. (2009) ‘Media, Politics and Climate Change: Towards a New Research Agenda’, Sociology Compass 3 (2), 166–82. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1751–9020.2008.00188.x/abstract

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  • Boyce, T. and J. Lewis (eds.) (2009) Climate Change and the Media. Oxford: Peter Lang.

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  • Boykoff, M. (2011) Who Speaks for Climate? Making Sense of Media Reporting on Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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  • Castells, M. (2009) Communication Power. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Chapter 5.

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  • Doyle, J. (2011) Mediating Climate Change. Aldershot: Ashgate.

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  • Painter, J. (2013) Climate Change in the Media: Reporting Risk and Uncertainty. London: I.B. Tauris.

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  • Philo, G. and Happer, C. (2013) Communicating Climate Change and Energy Security: New Methods in Understanding Audiences. London: Routledge.

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© 2014 Alison G. Anderson

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Anderson, A.G. (2014). The Climate Change Controversy. In: Media, Environment and the Network Society. Palgrave Studies in Media and Environmental Communication. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137314086_4

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