More Climate Change But Is It The Right Climate Change


Newspapers in developing countries

are publishing more stories about climate change,

but how much is locally relevant and how much is just recycled from the West?

Over the past few years, Max Boykoff and Maria Mansfield have tracked how much coverage 50 newspapers around the world have given to climate change.

Their latest findings suggest that after years of big regional differences, the newspapers now publish a similar number of articles each month, on average.

In the past 18 months or so, the number of articles per month has fallen in North America, Oceania and Europe, and has increased in the newspapers in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America.

The big spike at the end of 2009 coincides with the mass of reporting around the COP15 climate change conference in Copenhagen. It will be interesting to see where the plotlines head next — if they stay bunched together or if they split again in a new way on the other side of the knot.

It was kind of Max to suggest in an email that the increase in coverage in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America is partly due to projects like the Climate Change Media Partnership, which I have been working on since 2007.

This joint initiative between IIED, Internews and Panos has directly or indirectly supported thousands of journalists in developing countries to report on climate change (it has been nominated for an award, and if you are quick you can vote for it here).

But a recent study published by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford suggests there is still a lot of work to do. Its author, Evelyn Tagbo, looked at all of the articles on climate change in South Africa’s Mail and Guardian newspaper during the first three months of 2009 and 2010.

She found that more than 70% of these articles were international with no South African (nor even African) content. Original stories by reporters there accounted for just 6% of the climate change coverage.