Climate change and the daily press: Did we miss the point entirely?

Cecilia Rosen Ferlini, Javier Crúz-Mena


Even though most of the public debate regarding climate change seems to be centered today on the politics of potential post-Kyoto agreements and, to some extent, on the science and technology of mitigation and adaptation, the old questions of whether such a thing as ‘global warming’ actually exists and whether or not industrialised society is to blame for it still pop up every now and then in the media. This persistence ought to be surprising because the Third Assessment Report (TAR) issued in 2001 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was quite clear in its statement that climate change is real and most probably caused by human activity. We have made a partial review of the coverage of the various Reports issued by IPCC during 2001 to analyse the degree to which the daily press identified (or not) this qualitative shift and whether or not it characterised it as representative of a scientific consensus regarding these two points. Our data suggests that the shift in discourse was not entirely lost on what could be characterised as ‘prestige press’, but that Mexican dailies remained oblivious to it throughout the news cycle. We also present a model of science journalism's functionality to assess the degree to which these qualitative differences in coverage may have be relevant to the public.

Keywords: climate change, science journalism, IPCC

Full Text:



Communicating Climate Change: Discourses, Mediations and Perceptions
ISBN: 978-989-95500-3-2

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Centro de Estudos de Comunicação e Sociedade (CECS)
Universidade do Minho