Just not enough!

by MELU on April 1, 2015 - 8:39pm


Global warming has always been an on-going issue in our society, and it is getting more and more severe in the past few years. A lot of harmful effects caused by global warming are increasingly common. For instance, the icebergs in Antarctica are melting with a rapid average rate of 118 feet per decade in the past 18 years (Oskin). A lot of scientists show their concern and their urgent need to get more attention from the public. However, the media coverage on this issue is diminishing from 2009. Between 2009 and 2011, the coverage of global warming dropped 40 percent (Zerbisias). To make it more obvious, in 2011, there were only 19000 articles relevant to this issue have been published, compare to 32400 reports in 2009 (Zerbisias). Some more recent statistics show that the coverage keeps dropping with non-stop. In 2013, it reaches another low point (Martyniak). Why this happened? What makes the coverage decreases significantly?

One of the main reasons is that since global warming is not a new phenomenon anymore, media start to lose interest in it. Media follow closely to the trend. They are more interested in the new events than some old topics that have been reported for years like global warming. In order to remain a high popularity, media like television programs, newspapers, and magazines need to present some sensational issues. This is understandable, the competition in media is intense, they have to keep up their business, but they cannot forget their responsibility at the same time. Media have the responsibility to inform people on the on-going issues in a global scale. Especially topics like global warming, which affect all the living beings on the earth, definitely need more attention from the public. People are used to follow the trend presented by the media, which is the most common and efficient way of communication and information exchange; therefore, less coverage on global warming means that public feels less attached to this problem. People are not engaged to this issue anymore, not like in 2007 when the global warming was brought up to a hot topic. It gives people the false thinking that the problem is solved and we are not threatened by the climate change anymore. This kind of thinkings are not true because the situation is only getting worse. It is simply because that media stopped discussing this issue anymore.

Furthermore, the way that media presents the climate changes depends more and more on political trend. Editor Douglas Fischer form DailyClimate.org states that “Media coverage really follows the so-called thought leaders, the political elite, the cultural elite, the Hollywood elite, and the issue hasn’t had that kind of high-level involvement recently” (Zerbisias). For example, in 2011 campaign, Obama chose to improve health care instead of climate change which was a priority in Bush administration. As a consequence, media tended to follow Obama’s propaganda and moved their attention on the health care, but not global warming (Zerbisias). However, the coverage on climate change should not be a means for political propaganda. It is supposed to appeal the public on some real actions instead of some fancy talking.

Another troubling issue rises in the global warming coverage is the “balanced” reporting. How should media report the content related to science? Media have the responsibility to make sure that the scientific results are accurate and common. They have to show the public both sides of the issue. The problem is that some journalists or reporters just hear the opinions of one or two scientific experts; therefore, their stories will be one-sided, not credible (Griffin). In addition, media prefer to interview the scientists who have more controversial theories that are sensational. Their intention is to increase the popularity and create large active discussion. However, these scientists’ opinions are not always the fact. They do not necessarily have scientific results. On the contrary, the scientists who actually have some solid proofs have less chance to get their theories published because their ideas are not sensational enough (Griffin). This is also one of the main problems in global warming coverage.

In conclusion, we are now facing a challenge. On one hand, the media have to follow the trend in order to survive in the industry and satisfy public needs. On the other hand, we have to deliver the message to the public to appeal their awareness.  We need to reinforce the coordination between media and the field of science on the global warming phenomenon as well as other global on-going issues.


Work Cited

Griffin, David Ray. "Is the U.S. Mainstream Media's Climate Coverage Criminal?" Global Research. 26 Feb. 2015. Web. 1 Apr. 2015.

Martyniak, Karolina. "Mass Media Coverage of Climate Change - towards Public Engagement." Climate Exchange. 17 June 2014. Web. 1 Apr. 2015.

Oskin, Becky. "Antarctica's Ice Shelves Are Thinning Fast." LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 27 Mar. 2015. Web. 1 Apr. 2015.

Zerbisias, Antonia. "Climate Change Coverage by the Media Diminishing as Earth Continues to Heat up | Toronto Star." Thestar.com. Web. 1 Apr. 2015.




I would like to begin this comment by saying that your post is well written. The sources you cited give it more relevance. The statistics give your post credibility. Also, the unusual approach you take on climate change is very interesting to read. I never noticed any decline in media attention prior to reading your post. I encourage you to look at this article from The Guardian. It discusses a scientific approach to the hiatus in media coverage of global warming. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2014/feb/12/global-warm...

I like your take on the climate change issue. Usually, the debate revolves around government action (or lack thereof), but I have yet to see a piece commenting on the inadequacies of its reportage in the media. Although your view on the matter is compelling, I take issue with some of the points you raised. First of all, you point to a desire for media outlets to report on sensational issues as a reason for the reduced focus on climate change. I don’t see how global warming is any less sensational than it was in 2007. The nature of global warming and its effects are just as serious worrisome as they were then. In other words, I don’t believe that the reduction in coverage is due to the media’s desire to report on sensational stories, but rather that other stories are more pressing at this moment. Similarly, I don’t agree with your point that Obamacare replaced climate change in the media. Obamacare received considerable attention because it was a polarizing and highly controversial government policy with immediate consequences for the public. Since it’s within the media’s moral obligation to report on political issues affecting the population, it is understandable that coverage of Obamacare was so widespread. I just don’t think that it is accurate to say that the media is just following “trends”, since these “trends” are divisive public issues. Even though I consider climate change a serious problem, the moral justness of reporting on other current issues that have immediate relevance, outweighs the morally questionable reduction in coverage of a longer-term issue.

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