How can media coverage of climate change be better researched?


Last Thursday and Friday, twenty international communication researchers explored this question in the context of a workshop held on the KlimaCampus. The experts discussed the current state of media coverage, which social drivers influence it, and its effect on the public – a crucial aspect, since most people receive the bulk of their information on climate change through the mass media.

“It’s especially interesting to see the shape of the debate in countries that are affected by climate change in very disparate ways,” explains Dr. Goretti Nassanga from Makerere University, Uganda. Accordingly, at the workshop she compared the Ugandan and Swedish media together with her colleague Peter Berglez from Örebro University, Sweden. “Despite the considerable differences between the northern and southern hemisphere, we find similarities in media depictions,” claims Berglez. For example, nationally biased reporting can be observed: “Instead of looking for joint solutions to the global problem, media coverage tends to emphasize the competition with other countries over scarce resources.”

Prof. Mike Schäfer, Head of the Research Group Media Constructions of Climate Change at the KlimaCampus and organizer of the workshop, reports: “On both days, colleagues from every continent worked side by side.” The highlight of the workshop was its innovative format, which did not focus on research findings. “Instead, we discussed which countries should be compared, what we hope to learn from the comparisons, and which instruments are best suited to the task.” In addition to the workshop discussions, further collaborative projects were agreed upon and new publications were planned.

To the edited volume: The media climate