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Climate Central Leads 2012’s Climate Coverage

By Climate Central

Year-end numbers for media coverage of climate change showed Climate Central led the pack. Climate Central’s two science writers – Andrew Freedman and Mike Lemonick – finished first and third, respectively, in total number of stories published on climate change according to an annual report released Wednesday.

According to the report by The Daily Climate, the most prolific reporters writing about climate change filed more stories in 2012 than they did in 2011, and that overall, worldwide coverage fell 2 percent.

Climate Central's Freedman led all journalists with 172 stories. Fiona Harvey of The Guardian had 135 stories with Lemonick of Climate Central third at 134. Bob Berwyn of the Summit County (Colo.) Citizens' Voice, Ben Geman of The Hill, and Suzanne Goldenberg of The Guardian rounded out the top six.

According to The Daily Climate’s archives, worldwide coverage by many major news organizations gave roughly the same amount of coverage this year as they did in 2011. The Associated Press, Reuters, The Guardian and the Washington Post, among others, were fairly flat or saw slight rises in bylines, while the BBC saw its numbers drop for a third consecutive year.

Top 10 from the Daily Climate's
List of the Most Prolific Reporters in 2012



2012 Stories

Andrew Freedman Climate Central 172
Fiona Harvey The Guardian 135
Michael D. Lemonick Climate Central 134
Bob Berwyn Summit County Citizens' Voice 112
Ben Geman The Hill 99
Suzanne Goldenberg The Guardian 90
Matthew L. Wald New York Times 81
Andrew Restuccia Politico 76
David Biello Scientific American 75
Barbara Lewis Reuters 75 
Click here to see the complete Daily Climate list.

The report said that in 2012 there “were a proliferating number of specialized media sites — led by Climate Central, which published at least 368 stories last year largely via two reporters, Andrew Freedman and Michael Lemonick.”

Climate Central was followed by Inside Climate News, which published 157 stories. The Hill and Scientific American published 202 and 169 stories, respectively. 

Researchers and editors say sites like Climate Central — as well as the myriad bloggers writing on the subject — help push climate news into more mainstream and general publications.

As general media attention to climate change waxes and wanes, Climate Central aims to provide consistent and reliable coverage. 

As The Daily Climate wrote:

Coverage of climate impacts — extreme weather, melting glaciers and Arctic ice, warming temperatures and more — dominated climate news, accounting for almost one of every three stories written on the topic in 2012. That is the highest proportion in the five years that the website has been tracking coverage.

And coverage rebounded in some areas, particularly by the editorial boards of the world's newspapers.  

Separate analyses by other media watchers even showed an uptick in some climate-related reporting. Whether this represents a one-year blip or the start of a trend remains unclear, journalists and media researchers say.

The New York Times published the most stories on climate change and had the biggest increase in coverage among the five largest U.S. daily papers, according to media trackers at the University of Colorado. 

U.S. Newspaper coverage of climate change.
Click Image to Enlarge.
Credit: Center For Science and Technology Policy Research/University of Colorado, Boulder.

Last year 7,194 reporters and commentators filed 18,546 stories, compared to 7,166 reporters who filed 18,995 stories in 2011, according to The Daily Climate.

The numbers remain far from 2009's peak, when roughly 11,000 reporters and commentators published 32,400 items on climate change, based on the news site's archive. 

Still, there were some surprises: 

Stories linking climate change to sea level rise, weird weather and other events showed an all-time high, according to the archives: Some 5,800 stories were published on this facet of climate change, 37 percent more than 2011 and 25 percent more than during the 2009 peak.

And newspaper editorial boards, after growing markedly silent on the topic in 2010 and 2011, gave slightly more voice to the issue in 2012. Daily Climate's archives show 633 editorials for the year — nearly 10 percent more than in 2011.

Daily Climate is an independent, non-profit news site covering climate change. It relies on a team of researchers and editors, using customized searches, to compile a daily aggregation of climate coverage by global "mainstream" media: newspapers, TV and radio outlets, as well as select news websites from center-left to center-right.

The aggregation is meant to provide a broad sampling of the day's coverage, not a comprehensive list. Daily Climate does not capture every story or byline produced on the topic. But search methods and parameters are kept consistent from year to year, facilitating a comparison of media trends dating back to 2008, the first full year of the news service's operation.

« Climate in Context


By Dave (Basking Ridge, NJ 07920)
on January 2nd, 2013

Kudos to CC.  Unfortunately, and I mean that, CC is not representative of, nor does it have the broad impact of, the mainstream media on this subject despite the very nice website, various books and occasional media appearances on NPR and so on. To me this raises the important question of the role of the media. How does one report climate change and why does CC lead by these measures when this is such a big issue that one would think it should also be discussed much more prominently on ABC, CBS and NBC TV News? Of course CC is focused, but that still begs the question.

I have heard many arguments. Climate change is not sexy is a good one. In fact this entire subject is inherently gloomy to the point of being doomsday-ish and alarmist in its implications to society. It is technically complicated. Climate change events don’t fit easily or accurately into a sound bite. It is a very, very slowly breaking ‘news’ item and to compound the problem it is one which is hard for a lay audience with limited time to digest and accommodate. Psychologists, other Ph.D.s and media experts have written papers and researched the problem of how to better communicate climate change and it remains a truly difficult issue.

But without doubt, the deficient coverage of climate change in the US via popular mainstream media continues to reflect the fact that although climate change is a non negotiable consequence of the laws of nature, objective information via the media is allowed to be distorted and colored by the politics of editors, owners and sponsors. So, for instance, Fox and WSJ would have you instead think that climate change is not a problem and that media discord muddies the waters. Corporate and individual media and program sponsorship are a factor. As one example, I like the NOVA programs put out on PBS.  However, although climate change is an obvious topic for a NOVA, or indeed probably several NOVAs, I have not seen any episodes focusing on climate change at all for several years now.  NOVA is also now heavily sponsored by David H. Koch…

Anyway, keep going CC and Happy New Year to you all.

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