Sunday, March 29, 2015

Media Contributing to ‘Hope Gap’ on Climate Change

Newsstand (Credit: benben/Flickr) Click to Enlarge.
The latest evidence that media outlets deem the myriad problems posed by climate change more newsworthy than solutions to it was contained in a study published this week in Nature Climate Change.

Researchers analyzed media coverage in the U.K. and the U.S. of three different reports published as part of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent climate change assessment.  Their findings were a reminder that American outlets are bigger laggards on climate change coverage than their British counterparts.  “The prominence of the IPCC reports was fairly low, particularly in the U.S.,” wrote the authors of the peer-reviewed paper, from the University of Exeter and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Perhaps more provocatively, the results of the detailed analysis also suggest that newsrooms on both sides of the warming pond are struggling to produce stories about climate change in ways that are engaging for their audiences.  Instead, they’re fueling senses of hopelessness on the issue.

“I don’t find their major findings surprising,” Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, said of the study, with which he was not involved.  “We find in our audience research that even the alarmed [those most concerned about climate change] don’t really know what they can do individually, or what we can do collectively.  We call this loosely ‘the hope gap,’ and it’s a serious problem.  Perceived threat without efficacy of response is usually a recipe for disengagement or fatalism.”

The findings were consistent with research published a little over a year ago by researchers from the University of Michigan and Rutgers University, in Science Communication, which found that most evening TV news reports dealing with the impacts of climate change failed to mention steps that can be taken to address the problem. This week’s study suggests journalists could help their audiences better grapple with the subject by reporting more on how pollution levels can be slashed and how communities can adapt to climate change.

Read more at Media Contributing to ‘Hope Gap’ on Climate Change

No comments:

Post a Comment