Media and Climate Change

I was watching TV the other day and there was the weather standing outside trying his best to explain the weather. He said Mother Nature seems to be a little confused – and he giggled along with the main reporter. What worried me here was that first, they took climate change as a joke and why didn’t they speak of the real cause? Why didn’t he mention to lower your emissions because these are clear signs of climate change and it will only get worse? Then I started to think of the last time I heard about Climate change in the media and I couldn’t remember, so I decided to look into it..

According to an article in the Toronto Star, climate change coverage in the media has declined 40% since 2009. In 2011, there were 19 000 stories published on climate change, in 2009 there were 32 400… here’s a  that helps explain.

It is not only the reporters that are writing less about climate change but newspapers are moving away from publishing these types of stories. In 2009, papers printed 1 229 editorials on climate change and last year they published only 580.

Some reasons that may be why coverage has decreased is because around that time, Al Gore’s The Inconvenient Truth came out along with the Fourth Assessment Report of the International Panel on Climate Change – which both won Nobel Prizes. Since then, climate change hasn’t been receiving such a celebrity like image and has thus decreased.

The reason why I believe coverage has changed is very different. The reason why I think it has decreased is due to Canada’s lack of interest in climate change. The government isn’t showing much interest on a global level towards climate change which has been seen through their lack of commitment to the Kyoto Protocol and in other climate conferences. Because majority if not all news casting stations, newspapers etc. are either owned by the government or by large corporations.

Government owned media stations would obviously be less likely to provide information on climate change because the government itself isn’t doing much to solve it. By giving out information, people might start to look into what the government is doing to solve it (which is almost nothing) and raise problems.

If the media station is owned by a large corporation, they would be less likely to report on climate change and emissions cause these large corporations are usually the ones that contribute to green-house emissions the most. Also the owners of large corporations usually have close ties with politicians and the government and they probably wouldn’t want to get on their bad side so they may tend to stay away from the topics the government wants to stay away from.

Lastly, it could also be due to a Chomsky and Herman-like theory. The Chomsky and Herman Propaganda Model is a model that states 5 rules to which the media uses when reporting any information (here is a video to help you understand all of them). One of them is “flak.” This is the idea where media coverage usually tends to stay away from controversial issues that may cause a negative reaction from the public. Because there are so many different theories on climate change (for and against) there are many different individual views on it as well. Now if a media group decides to take either stand on climate change (for or against) it will cause a negative reaction from the public with the other, thus decreasing their viewers. And as we know, television stations need money from advertisements and a station with lower views means they cannot charge as much to play advertisements (advertisement is actually another filter from Chomsky and Herman’s Propaganda Model).

The only solution I can see to all this is make climate change famous again. In 2007 it was very famous with many outbreaks in the public from the reaction of Al Gore and other things which is why it was so famous in the media. Now that it is no longer the “hot” topic, there is less coverage on it. We as Canadians need to start stressing climate change again.

You can start by calling Stephen Harper and telling him to make Canada a climate leader, not loser!!

613 992 4211 (it’s actually his number, try it and leave a message!)

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