Media context and reporting opportunities on climate change: 2012 versus 1988

  • Ungar S
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Abstract

This paper asks why the extreme real-world weather events of the summer of 1988 created a social scare in the USA while the comparable weather impacts of 2012 did not. It uses these two summers to exemplify the importance of the broader context surrounding the media. The key background factors are: the dominant issue culture in which the media function; grassroots environmental social movements; and both political and scientific claims-making on climate change. The paper seeks to show that these factors affected reporting opportunities related to the formation of reproducing stories and the (investigative) stance assumed by the media. This paper asks why the extreme real-world weather events of the summer of 1988 created a social scare in the USA while the comparable weather impacts of 2012 did not. It uses these two summers to exemplify the importance of the broader context surrounding the media. The key background factors are: the dominant issue culture in which the media function; grassroots environmental social movements; and both political and scientific claims-making on climate change. The paper seeks to show that these factors affected reporting opportunities related to the formation of reproducing stories and the (investigative) stance assumed by the media.

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  • climate change communication

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Authors

  • Sheldon Ungar

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