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the role of media in reporting key environmental issues in different societies

By Kongaiheart Apr 28, 2015 1129 Words
The role of (private and
public) media in reporting
key environmental issues
in different societies.
Hai Tran – 43759645
Sue Hao -

April 2nd, 2015


◦ Climate Change
◦ Human Activities & Climate Change
◦ Media & Climate Change

6: News Media &
Environmental Journalism
Case studies
◦ US
◦ China: “Under the dome” documentary

Climate Change

is it?

Change in the statistical properties of
the climate system when considered
over long periods of time, regardless
of cause
Refer specifically to climate change
caused by human activity, as
opposed to changes in climate that
may have resulted as part of Earth's
natural processes. In this sense,
especially in the context
of environmental policy, the
term climate change has become
synonymous with anthropogenic
(Pielke 2004)
global warming.

Climate Change
Climate change is already affecting
the physical surface of the earth, the
environment that provides our life
support, our food supply, economy
and society. These changes will
accelerate over the next few decades

Climate Change


Anthropogenic factors are human activities which affect the
climate. The scientific consensus on climate change is "that climate is changing and that these changes are in large
part caused by human activities, and it "is largely
(United States National Research Council)

Climate Change & Media



News Media &
Environmental Journalism
Growth and Nature of
Environmental News
1960s---news stories and visual images
of environmental concerns began to
the photo of the Earth from astronauts on
Apollo 8 in 1968 & TV film of an oil spill
off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969
the next decades, the environmental
news expand and wane
(Cox, R. 2013 Environmental Communication and the

Characteristics of
environmental News

handful of news organizations”(Wyss,
Formidable force –Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring
in 1990, creation of the Society of Environmental
1910s, 1400 journalists identified as
environmental reporters in the U.S. 7,500 in other
countries(Wyss, 2008,p.ix)
Release of reports by Scientific or governmental
bodies, and environmental stories must compete
with news of war, unemployment, terrorism and
other breaking news.

Rise and Fall of
grew in coverage
The Tyndall Report

the of
tracked a low
the Bush
minutes in 1996 forofthe
TV news
forattacks on
and 195 minutes inofTerrorist
World Trade
1998(Hall, arsenic
2001) in the
4 water
Center and
the year of the Exxon
Pentagon on 2.9
Sep.11, 2001
3 warming:
The Tyndall Report
Al Gore’s documentary film
reported environmental
stories in 774 An Inconvenient Truth(2006) –
warning of the dangers of
1989 global
2006 2010-2020
United Nation’s
Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change report in
early 2007

and reached an
early peak after
Earth Day


Journalistic Norms &

Media frames

Objectivity &


of a news story to attract
readers or viewers.


news coverage

feature stories:
Strong visual elements
24-hour daily cycle


for environmental

◦ Lack visual quality
◦ Involve slower, more diffuse, and
drawn-out process
 Make environmental news both
accurate & newsworthy

Media frames

organising themes... That connect
different elements of a news story into a
coherent whole to suggest what is at issue
(Rodriguez 2003 cited in ...)
Visual representations
Narrative structure

Objectivity & Balance

that journalists commit to
for almost a century
Provide information that is
accurate and without reporter
Where there is controversy, to
balance news stories with
statements from all sides
When reporter lacks expertise &

Is balance really

scientists believe [...] that
humanity’s production of carbon
dioxide is leading to a potentially
dangerous overheating of the planet.
But skeptics contend there is no
evidence the warning exceeds the
climate’s natural variations.”
(Abramson 1992 cited in...)

“Balancing” in US newspapers in reporting of
global warming actually led to “biased coverage”.
(Boykoff & Boycoff 2004)

Case studies
Balance as bias:
Global warming and the US
prestige press
(Boykoff & Boykoff 2004)

US prestige-press coverage of global
warming from 1988 to 2002 has
contributed to a significant divergence
of popular discourse from scientific

Balance as bias

US prestige-press coverage of existence of anthropogenic contribution to global warming 1988–2002

Balance as bias

to the norm of balanced
reporting leads to informationally
biased coverage of global warming.
This bias, hidden behind the veil of
journalistic balance, creates both
discursive and real political space
for the US government to shirk
responsibility and delay action
regarding global warming.

Florida banned state workers from using term 'climate

Florida employee 'punished for using phrase climate

Governor Rick Scott has ardently denied that there is an unwritten ban on using the terms climate change and global warming.

Other news

Case Studies
 In

1984, China Environment News was launched
in Beijing and only national newspapers were
specializing in environmental reporting.
 From 1990s, environmental issues are covered by
local newspaper.
 In China, the vast majority of media is state-run
and critical articles are subject to scrutiny and
 Coverage of global warming through 2006 was
characterized largely by translated scientific
reports or science news reports from the west,
often without comment
 There is almost no articles made the link between
Chinese carbon emissions and the growing

The situation in China

2 February 2007, the release of the
IPCC Working Group I report, China is
willing to allow its state-controlled media
to report and interpret.
In recent years, the government has
started to deregulate the media sector,
especially in less sensitive areas.
China’s environmental media are
presented with a very good opportunity,
and it is likely that more resources will
be allocated to environmental reporting.

Is it really free to report?
‘under the dome’
documentary on China’s Pollution in
Jing Chai, was journalist of Beijing Media.
her baby has tumor with her born
a few days later, the documentary has
blocked in China Media

Conclusion about China

although the place of
media in developing countries
like China is increasing, the
media can not be totally free to
report what they want to say.

a. Journalistic norms vs Truth?
b. How do you think about
government-controlled media?
What's the situation like in your
own country? 

Reference list

R. 2013 Environmental
communication and the public sphere 3 rd
edition, London, pp144-149
Sandy T. 2007 Coverage of Climate
Change in Chinese Media, Human
Development Report Office OCCASIONAL
Sun Y. 2002. Environment Reporting in
China, Nieman Reports, Vol. 56 No.

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