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Department of Communication and Media Research Science Communication

DesmogUK: How to Communicate Climate Change in a World That Only Cares About Cats

The climate is changing. And so are the ways the media tries to cover it.

In a world of fake news, ‘post-truth’ and lies, new media organisations are critical to communicating an issue that should be everyone’s concern.

“Many television producers see climate change as too niche or for fanatics. It's too remote, it's too boring, it's too consistently depressing, it's too alarming”, said James Painter, author of a new book from Oxford University's Reuters Institute on climate change reporting, at its launch in central London last night.

That creates a space for new media organisations – online outlets like Buzzfeed, Vice News, the Huffington Post and more, including DeSmog – with fresh ideas and identities to step in.

“These new players are really doing a good job of trying to find new ways to cover it,” Painter said.

We are living in an era of climate silence, Painter said. But it’s not just bombs falling in Aleppo, tales of economic woe, and the latest electoral shock that knock climate off the media’s agenda.

It’s Kanye and Kim, food porn, and cats.

It’s a crowded space. And climate change coverage is being suffocated in the squeeze.

Across three hours of presidential debates this autumn, two minutes and and 27 seconds were given to discussing climate change, according to Grist.

A Loughborough University study likewise found that in the six weeks prior to the Brexit referendum, only 0.5 percent of traditional newspaper coverage referenced environmental issues, despite much of the UK’s clean air, water and emissions regulations stemming from Europe.

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