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Interest in climate journalism on the rise

July 31st, 2019

Public interest in climate journalism is on the rise, according to a new analysis out this week. 

In response to a request from the Colombia Journalism Review (CJR), Su Hang, a data scientist at Chartbeat analysed climate-related articles from January 2017 and June 2019.

The articles were compiled from 1,300 media websites worldwide, the majority of which were in North America and Europe.

Examining the first quarter of each year, the number of minutes that people spent reading climate-related stories doubled by the first quarter of 2019 compared to the previous years.

“Climate change content matters,” Hang told the CJR. “That’s clear based on the data from both coverage and consumption of climate change content.” 

At the Guardian, a CJR partner in the Covering Climate Now project, environmental journalism has racked up a 50 per cent increase in contributions over the past financial year.

Over 60 media outlets from around the world have joined the project. Each outlet has committed to one week of focused coverage in September to coincide with the UN climate summit in New York. 

“We’re not here to tell people what to write or broadcast,” the CJR announcement reads. “All that’s required is for each outlet to make a good faith effort to increase the amount and the visibility of its climate coverage – to make it clear to their audiences that climate change is not just one more story but the overriding story of our time.” 

In January, RTE announced that it intends to greatly increase its climate coverage in response to growing demand from its audience.

The national broadcaster has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years for its coverage of climate change. In 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report which suggested that the Irish broadcast media could be doing more to report on climate issues. 

Only three per cent of stories on broadcast media were devoted to climate change or sustainability issues during the peak time for climate change news analysed by the agency, the report found. 

RTE News and Prime Time were singled out for a lack of any “thematic coverage” of climate change or sustainability issues that, the EPA said, “require a certain level of unpacking over time”. 

About the Author

Kayle Crosson

Kayle is a multimedia journalist focused on climate and environmental issues and contributes to The Irish Times and The Green News.

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