Thursday morning, Chris Nash talked about
a revolution which has to take
place in the field of journalism in order to cover the issue of climate
change more properly.
However, in the afternoon sessions of the journalism track,
a lot of the obstacles in the revolutionary road became visible when
Chinese, British and American journalists from the Erasmus Mundus programme
(with help from Norway) presented.
As Andreas Ytterstad and Elisabeth Eide
observed, Norway's approach to fighting climate change involves buying
high amounts of carbon dioxide offsets in order the country's footprint.
The Norwegian media presents the prime minister in his heroic missions
when contributing to the preservation of rain forests, but in the domestic
sphere, oil companies continue to pollute. One inherent problem of the lack
of criticism in Norwegian media lies in the fact that 80 percent of
the coverage about climate change uses national sources for reference.
Climate Change – who cares?
In Britain, according to Cassie Werber,
climate change is unfortunately only the middle classes' cup of tea.
She observed that there is an inconsistency in British media leading
to a failed reporting as the information are unevenly spread across
For example, major papers such as the Sun, privately
owned by Rupert Murdoch and circulated over 3 million copies a day, uses
mainly the language of apocalypse in its coverage, thus leaving the
more consistent coverage to the middle class press, but this continues to
confine the issue to the leftist or activist part of society.
Small green revolutions in China
According to Nash, the future of journalism
is located in the emerging countries and the regions which are more
immediately (physically) concerned with results of climate change.
Ying felt the responsibility to provide the audience with insights about
the media system in her home country. In between the state-owned and
market-oriented-but-nevertheless-state-controlled media, there is a
"small" community of 160 million bloggers.
Some of them
started civil movements against different environmental plans of the
government, however mostly in regional contexts, such as preventing
air polluting factories from being built near cities. Anyway, there
is change coming from below. If you are more interested, visit www.chinadialogue.net.
Finally, Jeanette Jordan addressed another
severe problem about climate change coverage with is acute in any Western-based
commercial media: it doesn't sell, simply because it is still perceived
as remote and abstract instead of local and concrete.
want to know if this is happening in [their] backyard", media has
to draw a connection to the audience, address them directly and present
the information in "bite-size nuggets". Since climate change
requires a higher effort productively, temporally and thus monetarily,
it is simply not happening today.
So, we see that there are huge obstacles
to overcome, but also hope for at least small revolutions, and getting
back to Nash, mostly coming from the new media.
by Torsten Müller