Despite being ‘the biggest threat facing humanity’ climate change and its impacts fail to make headlines, says study

Untold-story
Date: April 6, 2016 Source: International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Summary: Even as 60 million people around the world face severe hunger because of El Niño and millions more because of climate change, top European and American media outlets are neglecting to cover the issues as a top news item, says a new research report.

Even as 60 million people around the world face severe hunger because of El Niño and millions more because of climate change, top European and American media outlets are neglecting to cover the issues as a top news item, says a new research report funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) today.

“It’s incredible that in a year when we have had record temperatures, 32 major droughts, and historic crop losses that media are not positioning climate change on their front pages,” said IFAD President, Kanayo F. Nwanze. “Climate change is the biggest threat facing our world today and how the media shape the narrative remains vitally important in pre-empting future crises.”

The report, “The Untold Story: Climate change sinks below the headlines” provides an analysis of the depth of media reporting around climate change in two distinct periods: two months before the 21st session of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, and two months after. Specifically, it explores whether issues connecting climate change, food security, agriculture and migration made headlines, and if so, how much prominence these stories were given.

Among some of its key findings: • Climate change stories were either completely absent or their numbers decreased in major media outlets in Europe and the United States before and after COP21. • Coverage on the consequences of climate change, such as migration, fell by half in the months after COP21 and people directly impacted by climate change rarely had a voice in stories or were not mentioned at all. • News consumers want climate change issues and solutions to be given more prominence in media outlets and, in particular, want more information on the connections between climate change, food insecurity, conflict and migration.

February 2016 was the hottest month on record.1 Two months earlier, world leaders gathered in Paris to hammer out a climate deal just as extreme weather events were causing droughts across southern Africa, leaving millions of people hungry. At the same time, record numbers of migrants continued to arrive in Europe. Climate change is among the greatest threats to face humanity and yet the issue, its tragic consequences and its solutions have been largely disregarded by some of the world’s influential media outlets.

 From the Preface…

“The Untold Story: Climate change sinks below the headlines” is a research report prepared for presentation to international media attending the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy in April 2016. It will be released just days before world leaders gather at the United Nations in New York to sign the concluding document of the twenty-first session of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP21), which took place in December 2015 in Paris. At the time, the Paris Agreement made headlines and led news bulletins across the globe. But leading up to COP21 and in the months following it, coverage on climate change significantly fell off the radar of major media outlets across Europe and the United States.

The report provides an analysis of the depth of media reporting around climate change in two distinct periods: two months before COP21 and two months after COP21. Specifically, it explores whether issues connecting climate change, food security, agriculture and migration made headlines, and if so, how much prominence these stories were given. The report asks what expert voices were heard throughout the stories and whether farmers or migrants themselves had a voice. And finally, the report looks at what newsreaders understand about food and climate-related migration and their impression of media coverage provided. Among some of its key findings:

  • Climate change stories were either completely absent or their numbers decreased in major media outlets in Europe and the United States before and after COP21 in Paris.
  • Coverage on the consequences of climate change such as migration, fell by half in the months after COP21 and people directly impacted by climate change rarely had a voice in stories or were not mentioned at all.
  • News consumers want climate change issues and solutions to be given more prominence in media outlets and, in particular, want more information on the connections between climate change, food insecurity, conflict and migration.

…(read more).

See full report:

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

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