Is climate change content locally relevant

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MIKE SHANAHAN

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.

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

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 percent of these articles were international with no South African (nor even African) content. Original stories by reporters there accounted for just 6 percent of the climate change coverage.

I am curious to know what readers of this blog think about these studies. Has media coverage of climate change increased much in your countries?

Has media coverage included more locally-relevant, locally-generated stories, or is there a heavy reliance on \’international\’ stories, including those from Western news agencies and press releases?

And given that the chart above is based on stories in English-language newspapers around the world (listed here at the bottom of the page), what are the trends in media coverage of climate change in local language newspapers, radio and television?

You can read more of Shanahan\’s blogs here.
 

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