2011-12-11 11:34:54Changing The Global Media Climate (draft)
Brian Purdue

bnpurdue@bigpond.net...
60.228.22.178

I’m posting the draft on climate change media reporting because I’m sure those I need permission from will want to read it first. Therefore any suggested changes, corrections etc can be make beforehand. I started with a bland piece that just gave info from study but decided to put vegetables with the meat to make a meal of it and something that is hopefully interesting to read. The theme is websites like SkS provide an important media function but the real heavy lifting is done by the mass media.

Please comment and look for typos.  

CHANGING THE GLOBAL MEDIA CLIMATE

Communication – it’s critical

Accurate and unbiased communication of information is essential when coming to an informed decision on any subject; and there is arguable no more compelling a subject than anthropogenic global climate change. SkepticalScience prides itself on being a website fully committed to communicating the science.

 Pure climate science is complex, so it doesn’t take much misinformation to corrupt the communication process. When this is coupled with the remaining uncertainties http://www.skepticalscience.com/settled-science-and-uncertainties.htmlinherent in the science, it is all-too-easy for the opposing “skeptical” view to confuse the public and the policy-making politicians. 

ScepticalScience is playing an increasing role in disseminating the science and countering the misinformation, but the role of informing the less-engaged broader public still, and probable always will, remain with the mass media at the local, national and international level. This heavy responsibility is shouldered by small media outlets, through to multinational media corporations.

Matching the media and science message

What message should the mass media be communicating about climate change?

The unambiguous message coming from the science is that to avoid dangerous levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, all countries must put in place effective mechanisms to price carbon, to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Paradoxically, the most recent studies http://www.skepticalscience.com/Economic-Growth-and-Climate-Change-Part-1.html  show there is an acceleration, not decrease, in emission; so the current message is falling mainly on deaf ears.

Emissions reduction progress?

Australia is the latest country to legislate such a mechanism but this will have to be progressively strengthened to achieve the reduction goal.

This(http://www.skepticalscience.com/australia_legislates_an_emissions_trading_scheme.html ) tells the torturous and long path to enact the Australian legislation. During this period Australia’s mainstream media was hypoactive in the climate change debate.

Australian media study

A snapshot of Australia’s print media’s role is contained in this just-released study (http://www.acij.uts.edu.au/pdfs/sceptical-climate-part1.pdf ), which compiled data on the published material on climate change from ten newspapers located in Australia’s capital cities.  The study spans 2011.

 A vigorous methology was used, which included; Topic (Climate policy); Genre (Feature, News, Short Feature, Letters); Types and identity of sources quoted; A breakdown of business sources into different industries, and many other codings (refer to study).

 The study’s key findings were (the results are listed as positive, neutral and negative and then shown as a percentage).

 

  • Overall, negative coverage of the Gillard government’s carbon policy across ten newspapers outweighed positive coverage across ten Australian newspapers by 73% to 27%. (Note: After neutral items were discounted).
  • All papers contained some positive and a substantial amount of neutral material. The highest level of neutral articles was found in The Age and The Hobart Mercury, the lowest level was found in The Northern Territory News and The Daily Telegraph.
  • After neutral items were discounted, negative coverage (82%) across News Ltd newspapers far outweighed positive (18%) articles. This indicates a very strong stance against the carbon policy adopted by the company that controls most Australian metropolitan newspapers, and the only general national daily.
  • By comparison, Fairfax was far more balanced in its coverage of the policy than News Ltd publications with 57% positive articles outweighing 43% negative articles.
  • The Age was more positive (67%) rather than negative towards the policy than any other newspaper. The Daily Telegraph was the most negative (89%) rather than positive of newspapers.
  • Headlines were less balanced than the actual content of articles. Neutral articles were more likely to be headlined negative (41%) than positive (19%).
  • Readers relying on metropolitan newspapers living in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane received more coverage of carbon policy issues than readers in Perth, Adelaide and Darwin.
  • The Australian gave far more space to the coverage of climate change than any other newspaper. Its articles were coded 47% negative, 44% neutral and 9% positive. When neutrals were discounted, there were 84% negative articles compared to 17% positive.

 (NOTE: News Limited controls around 70% of Australia’s print media.)

 There has been no equivalent studies done for the radio and television media but from observing their output on climate change a similar result could be extrapolated.

 Editorial policy

The study’s results may surprise some people because the Australian (News Limited flagship) has repeatedly stated that its editorial policy, in respect to greenhouse warming, is to give the planet “the benefit of the doubt”. This policy is not reflected in the study.

 A bright future for the media!

It is almost unanimously agreed that global temperatures in the past hundred years have risen (the diehards still say otherwise), and the science says that this has been caused by greenhouse gas emissions from human activity.

 This will lead to extreme weather events, both in frequency and intensity, and both hot and cold extremes.

 This is pretty basic physics so you don’t have to be a climate scientist of understand the principle involved.

 The media report these weather events so, in the future, there will be a corresponding increase in footage, printed words and verbal broadcast material.

 One of the beneficiaries of global warming will be the media but it's going to be a sorrowful tale to tell.    

 

 

2011-12-12 06:37:50
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.92.83.229

-First sentence - arguable=arguably

-Settled science hyper-link has the word 'inherent' imbedded in it.  

-'ScepticalScience' is spelt with a 'k' in it. (3rd paragraph)

-3rd paragraph - probable=probably

-Under heading 'Emissions reduction progress?' - hypoactive=hyperactive? I assume that's what you mean.

-"Its articles were coded 47% negative, 44% neutral and 9% positive.When neutrals were discounted, there were 84% negative articles compared to 17% positive." - that doesn't add up.

- "This will lead to extreme weather events, both in frequency and intensity, and both hot and cold extremes." Cold extremes will decrease in a warming world.

Looks good!

2011-12-12 15:15:05
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
96.229.221.76
Under "Matching the media and science" you say the science calls for pricing carbon. Doesn't the science call for reducing the GHGs but not necessarily via carbon pricing? I think much of the bullet list could be summarized as a chart. I'd be happy to draw one.
2011-12-12 16:45:03
Brian Purdue

bnpurdue@bigpond.net...
60.228.22.178

Thanks Rob and jg - have made corrections and can change wording about carbon pricing if that’s wrong? A chart would be great jg.

I emailed Prof. Wendy Bacon about permission to publish but have not heard back yet – she may have gone on Christmas leave?

But I have just received an email from “Newsstand” that starts off “It's official! Bias exists within the Australian media and it's endangering the ability of politicians and the public to engage in important policy debates” and gives this link http://datasearch2.uts.edu.au/acij/investigations/detail.cfm?ItemId=29219&t=dXNlcmlkPTY5MjksZW1haWxpZD05

If I don’t get a reply in the next day or two maybe it can be assumed it’s OK to publish in SkS?

Newsstand is running a campaign to put pressure on News Limited http://www.newsstand.org.au/campaigns/acij-report/new-news-ltd-ceo/send-news-ltd-a-message?t=dXNlcmlkPTY5MjksZW1haWxpZD05 and the “media climate” post on SkS would help – send a copy to the new CEO!

 

2011-12-12 21:29:36
Brian Purdue

bnpurdue@bigpond.net...
60.228.22.178

I have received permission to publish from Wendy Bacon. She is overseas at present and said they will be releasing a second report on media coverage of climate change but is not sure when. I am now on the list to be kept up to date on what’s going on.

2011-12-14 07:13:25
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
98.112.44.162

Brian,

I merged the ownership information with the headlines data on this graphic, which I think enhances the comparison:

I'd like to add a similar chart but for articles negative/positive with similar breakout of ownership, and if I can do so cleanly, add the total articles data at the right. I'm working on that now.

jg 

 

 

2011-12-14 08:25:34
Brian Purdue

bnpurdue@bigpond.net...
60.228.22.178

jg, that's far better than reading it in word form! You are one step ahead of me - was going to ask if the chart could combine info from the table on ownership etc, and you have done it. I may have to delete wording about neutral articles or make reference to them in post. Will wait until I see new chart.   

2011-12-14 09:23:50
Brian Purdue

bnpurdue@bigpond.net...
60.228.22.178

jg, just noticed you have said Headline Stance in chart title. Data does include headlines but is mainly about article content. I'm I reading this right? Don't want people to think it's just about the headlines.

2011-12-14 09:54:38
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
98.112.44.162

I'm working on two charts. Chart 8 from the original is about the tone inferred from the headlines, which is what I portrayed. Chart 10 is about content. So, I'm going to redraw that one in the manner I've done above.

Confession: I redrew 8 thinking it was 10, but in checking my work caught the error. In hindsight, it's interesting to see that headlines and content have slightly different stats. I can post a rework of 10 tonight. (about 5 hours from now).

Another route could be to show the charts that list positive, neutral, and negative stats. Then we could show the number of articles too (or extract the number of articles remaining from subtracting neutral and add that number to these charts).

jg

 

2011-12-14 12:13:33
Brian Purdue

bnpurdue@bigpond.net...
60.228.22.178

One thing I didn't mention is Wendy Bacon said in her email that she had been "attacked" by News Limited about the study and she was going to respond when she got back - nice friendly game we are playing!

She is happy SkS has joined the fight. 

2011-12-14 15:17:55
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
96.229.221.76

The graph merges 1 and 10 from the report.

2011-12-14 16:03:00
Brian Purdue

bnpurdue@bigpond.net...
60.228.22.178

Thanks jg, that's great! I'll update the blog post but am going out and won't be back till late tonight so maybe not till tomorrow. When it's finished will need someone to put it into SkS format - not sure how to do that.  

2011-12-15 04:48:17Creating a blog post
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

See here for instructions, and just copy what you've got here.

2011-12-15 11:14:33
Brian Purdue

bnpurdue@bigpond.net...
60.228.22.178

jg, there is a noticeable color intensity difference between the two charts – the headlines chart is darker. Can you change article chart to be the same please.

2011-12-15 15:00:21
jg
John Garrett
garrjohn@gmail...
96.229.221.76

Brian,

Please use these two charts. I exported both together to minimize any chance of differences in color.

 

2011-12-15 15:25:18Final draft - final comments - if any?
Brian Purdue

bnpurdue@bigpond.net...
60.228.22.178

  jg, the colors must just look different on the screen              

                                 CHANGING THE GLOBAL MEDIA CLIMATE

Communication – it’s Critical

Accurate and unbiased communication of information is essential when coming to an informed decision on any subject; and there is arguably no more compelling a subject than anthropogenic global climate change. SkepticalScience prides itself on being a website fully committed to communicating the science.

Pure climate science is complex, so it doesn’t take much misinformation to corrupt the communication process. When this is coupled with the remaining uncertainties inherent in the science, it is all-too-easy for the vocal “skeptic” view to confuse the public and the policy-making politicians. 

SkepticalScience is playing an increasing role in disseminating the science and countering the misinformation, but the role of informing the less-engaged broader public still, and probably always will, remain with the mass media at the local, national and international level. This heavy responsibility is shouldered by small media outlets through to multinational media corporations.

Matching the Media and Science Message

What message should the mass media be communicating about climate change?

The unambiguous message coming from the science is that to avoid dangerous levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, all countries must put in place effective mechanisms, like putting a price on carbon, to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Paradoxically, the most recent studies  show there is an acceleration, not decrease, in emission; so the current message is falling mainly on deaf ears.

Emissions Reduction Progress?

Australia is the latest country to legislate such a mechanism but this will have to be progressively strengthened to achieve the reduction goal.

This tells the torturous and long path to enact the Australian legislation. During this period Australia’s mainstream media was hyperactive in the climate change debate.

 Australian Media Study

A snapshot of Australia’s print media’s role is contained in this just-released study, which compiled data on the published material on climate change from ten newspapers located in Australia’s capital cities.  

 A vigorous methodology was used, which included; Topic (Climate policy); Genre (Feature, News, Short Feature, Letters); Types and identity of sources quoted; A breakdown of business sources into different industries, and many other coding (refer to study).

 The study’s key findings on published articles (including carbon tax policy) were:

The article’s headlines were more unbalanced than the actual content of articles.

 

 (NOTE: News Limited controls around 70% of Australia’s print media.)

 There has been no equivalent studies done covering the radio and television media but from observing their output on climate change policy a similar result could be extrapolated.

 Editorial Policy

The study’s results may come as a surprise to some because the Australian (News Ltd. flagship) has repeated stated in climate change editorials that, in respect to greenhouse warming, we must give the planet “the benefit of the doubt”. This editorial policy is not reflected in the study.

 A Bright Future for the Media!

It is almost unanimously agreed that global temperatures in the past hundred years have risen (the diehards still say otherwise), and the science says that this has been caused by greenhouse gas emissions from human activity.

This leads to heat related extreme weather events, both in frequency and intensity. This is pretty basic physics so you don’t have to be a climate scientist of understand the principle involved.

The media report these weather events and their flow on consequences, so in the future there will be a corresponding increase in vision footage, printed words and verbal broadcast material.

One of the beneficiaries of global warming will be the media, but it will be a sorrowful tale to tell.