Master thesis; “An inconvenient truth about press coverage on climate change”.

Katherine Duarte has to day defended her master thesis at Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen. Her master studies has been performed at the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center and supported with a stipend from the G.C. Rieber Funds and the Nansen Scientific Society.

In her thesis “An inconvenient truth about press coverage on climate change” she has discussed the Norwegian media coverage of climate change from October 2007 to April 2008 in five Norwegian newspaper, i.e. Aftenposten. VG, Dagens Næringsliv, Bergens Tidende and Nordlys. The approach to the problem is Which attitudes and voices are represented in the Norwegian coverage of climate change. The methods used are a) quantitative content analysis of 441 newspaper articles and b) qualitative interviews with four climate scientists, and four journalists.

Several studies have shown that the journalistic norm of balance, has given a minority such as climate skeptics, an unproportional large attention in the coverage of climate change. This minority is nearly non-existent in her analysis. The results shows that there is less ambiguity in the Norwegian press coverage of climate change, 76% agrees with the consensus of the IPCC about anthropogenic contribution to climate changes. It is also relevant to examine which “voices” that are represented in the press, who claims that everybody can be a part of this heated debate. Unfortunately this is not the case, because mainly voices from authorities in the society, like politicians, climate scientist and public spokespersons, are more visible in the climate media coverage. Voices from the grass roots and organizations, are to a lesser extent heard.

Norway is a country that emphasizes equality between the sexes, so in this analysis it is interesting that women are more or less absent in the climate newspaper coverage. The press works with certain media frames to make their stories easier to recognize for the readers, emphasizing certain personalities rather than others. The media can create uncertainty amongst their readers and audience by given space to, although a small one, to skeptics of climate change. By focusing on conflicts between the climate scientists, media could help to delay political responsibility and action on mitigation: “We don´t know enough, therefore we have to wait”. The Norwegian press coverage of climate change has an overload of domestication, 66% of the articles have a national focus.

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