BBC Radio set to expand climate change coverage

Published by Niall Sargent on

October 2nd, 2018

Two current affairs programmes on BBC Radio will now include climate change coverage in their broadcasts every week, the shows’ editor has confirmed.

Writing on the national broadcaster’s blog page, the editor of The World Tonight and Newshour, Jo Floto, said that both shows coverage will start tomorrow.

The first edition will come from Norway and how the country that grew rich on fossil fuels is now hoping to become Europe’s “renewable energy battery”.

Mr Floto added that, while the BBC has reported on climate change for a long time, the issue “doesn’t always get the attention it deserves”.

The reason for this, he said, is that daily news programmes tend to focus on events of the day, when, in reality, issues sure as climate change “aren’t always events”.

“They’re often a process, a trend, a gradual change,” he said. “They don’t always compete well against daily news events that feel more urgent – explosions, elections, Presidential tweets”.

The programmes have also signed up people on the front line of a changing planet who, Mr Floto said, will keep the BBC posted on issues across the world from the Amazon to the polar ice caps.

Photo: Sollok29

Irish climate coverage

The BBC recently outlined its editorial policy on climate change in a detailed four-page brief to its staff and invited them to sign up for a short training course on how to report on climate change.

RTE, however, has issued no editorial guidelines to its journalists on how to cover climate change as revealed by a recent Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) request from the transparency-focused not-for-profit Right to Know.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a research report last year which suggests that the Irish broadcast media could be doing more to report on climate issues.

The EPA analysis looked at four two-week periods in 2013 and 2014 which covered broadcasts for one week either side of the release of four reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Only three per cent of stories on broadcast media were devoted to climate change or sustainability issues during this “peak time for climate change news”, the EPA analysis found.

The report says that journalistic content on climate change and sustainability is treated “episodically,” and not given the in-depth coverage that other areas receive.

Media at Citizens Assembly on Saturday November 4th at the Grand Hotel, Malahide, Dublin.Photo: MAXWELL

International issue

Last month, a US report suggests that the US media is reluctant to link the current global heatwave to climate change.

The report from Public Citizen, a US non-profit, found that between 1 January and 8 July, just over 17 per cent of stories on extreme heat, heatwaves or record temperatures mentioned climate change.

Between 27 June and 8 July, when much of the US experienced extreme heat conditions, only 23 of 204 heat-related articles (11 per cent) mentioned climate change.

The findings come after over 400 daily maximum temperature records were broken in 37 US states and four states set all-time temperature records.

The analysis takes into account articles from the top 50 US newspapers, the main cable news outlets and newspaper coverage in 13 states where 10 or more temperature records were broken during the heatwave.

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London