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Report: The media is bad at covering climate change and worse at covering solutions

Report: The media is bad at covering climate change and worse at covering solutions
[Photo: Mike Arney/Unsplash]

While President Trump has turned bashing the mainstream media into a form of performance art, sometimes the press does deserve some constructive criticism. For example, look no further than the media’s inadequate coverage of climate change and potential solutions—inadequate, at least, according to a new report by the watchdog group Public Citizen.

The group looked at news stories from a number of major U.S. news outlets to see how–or if–they covered what many consider to be the greatest threat to national security. More specifically, the group looked at whether the media was able to connect dramatic weather events–which the world had plenty of in 2017–to climate change. It found a “decidedly low” number of pieces that mentioned climate change in relevant contexts–such as drought, floods, and disease. Instead, the term “climate change” most often occurred in stories about record heat, but not issues like wildfires, record rain fall, or hurricanes, tropical storms, and flooding. In fact, Public Citizen found that just 4% of the many stories discussing hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, or Nate made the connection to climate change.

Not only is the media barely mentioning climate change in context, but coverage of potential solutions to climate change is even more scanty–only 9% of all pieces mentioned solutions. Reporting on ways to possibly slow or even reverse climate change are critical now, particularly in light of the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, roll back U.S. climate policy, and promote coal.