Is the Mainstream Media Ready to Cover Global Warming Again?


Image via NBC
And Really Cover It?
Over the last few years, the mainstream media seemed to tire of covering advances in climate science in any real depth. Instead, it turned to the admittedly more dramatic non-scandals du jour, easily debunked memes (the snow-in-winter-so-climate-change-is-false being particularly eye roll-worthy), and interviewing climate skeptics. It all seemed to serve to craft a 'Global Warming: Is It Real or Not?" narrative that was in theory more compelling than 'Global Warming: Still Happening". But it appears that, having covered every inch of the skeptic angle, the MSM may be ready to return to getting the story right on climate change. Can this be?Mainstream reportage, as everyone knows, needs a hook. Regarding climate change, from the early to mid aughts, that hook was something like: 'Hey, the body of science supporting anthropogenic global warming has grown pretty incredibly irrefutable--perhaps it's time we Americans did something about it." Climate change was a new topic (newly covered, any ways) and was ripe for digestion by the public. Partly thanks to that surge, the modern green movement came to prominence.

Decline of Hard Climate Reportage
Unfortunately, a hook like this: "Hey, this is still happening. Yup, still happening" isn't quite as compelling to the cable TV watching, internet news addicted generation. And so, it appears that a shift occurred in the opposite direction--perhaps hungry for a new narrative, the MSM seemed to spend the last couple years dredging up the 'skeptic' angle, honoring even the most fact-starved climate skeptics with TV interviews and radio spots.

Hence we got the 'Climate Gate' non-scandal, the snowy winter disproves climate change meme, and more. But is the tide finally turning? Is the MSM ready to cover global warming again?

The optimist in me wants to say yes--I was reading a story this morning from Reuters about scientists in Australia issuing a report that climate change was occurring. The scientists listed all of the ongoing effects of climate change, how sea surface temps had risen, how the general temps had too, how precipitation rates were shifting, and how they presented the report to the Australian government. That's it. I finished the article and said, that's it? No inane interviews with skeptics saying, well, the climate has always been changing we can't hope to understand it? No politicians saying CO2 is necessary for life, so we should disregard the issue?

Mainstream Media Rebounds on Climate Coverage?
Nope. It was a plain ol' report about the effects of climate change. It was so simple that I myself was deceived and reported on it here with a healthy (maybe too healthy) dose of snark. And I got to thinking: the MSM's original straightforward angle in covering climate change shifted to 'So and so renegades claim it's not real, these scientists screwed up--is global warming still really happening?"

Then perhaps now the arc is shifting back--perhaps the fact that skeptics have been unable to convince 97% percent of the scientific community has dried up their story (finally). It's exhausted, maybe--the relentless probes into the most minor of scandals have satisfied only hardcore Limbaugh fans and diehard skeptics.

Now, if anything the angle can be "Scientific community, persevering over scandal and admitting to errors, is still confident climate change is one of the greatest threats to mankind." Don't be surprised to see that as the new framing device: "Responding to recent accusations, scientists note that climate change is still very real" or "Fighting back the charges of scandal, scientists x"--now the case for climate science has the capacity to be sexy again. And I'll bet we'll be seeing more such cases showing up in the MSM.

More on Global Warming Media Coverage
41% of Americans Think the Media Exaggerate Climate Change
"Most Credible" Climate Skeptic Revealed to Receive Funding from Big Oil
Cold Snap Vs Climate Change: The Must-See Video
Al Gore Re-Frames The Climate Risk Communication Problem

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