Media Coverage of Climate Change Sinks Even Lower

Itís an inverse relationship that makes absolutely no sense: As the temperature of the planet increases, the news coverage on climate change decreases.

A year ago, I discussed a Media Matters study that showed the four major American networks had lowered the amount of time they spent on global warming in 2015. It brings me no joy to say that trend only got worse in 2016.

New Media Matters research shows that the amount of time the network news shows devoted to climate change in 2016 decreased by 66 percent from the previous year. Altogether, they spent 50 minutes on climate change the entire year.

ABC, the network Care2 petitioned with nearly 25,000 signatures last year, continues to come in dead last with its coverage. Altogether, ABC spent six minutes on climate change stories in 2016, down from a measly 13 minutes in 2015.

That said, ABC isnít the only channel that deserves our ire. All of the major networks took a hatchet to their global warming coverage:

  • NBC allocated 10 minutes, down from 50 minutes in 2015.
  • Fox allocated 7 minutes, down from 39 minutes in 2015.
  • CBS allocated 27 minutes, down from 45 minutes in 2015.

In the 50 minutes of network coverage that global warming did receive, the content was unimpressive. Rarely were scientists brought in as experts. Rarely was climate change connected to public health concerns. Rarely was climate change implicated for the rash of extreme weather events, which were being covered.

Worse still, the networks completely ignored the threats climate change poses to national security, as well as the economic devastation that experts anticipate will come with rising temperatures. None of them focused on the documents that revealed ExxonMobil knew about climate change going all the way back to the early 1980s. On multiple occasions, networks aired clips of Trump and his officials dismissing climate change without offering up any rebuttal.

People will point out Ė correctly Ė that a lot of news coverage in 2016 was devoted to the presidential election. However, thatís not a good excuse for leaving climate change out of the conversation. Given the Democratic and Republican nomineesí oppositional stances on the subject, itíd seem like an issue worth highlighting for voters looking to make an informed decision.

Media Matters did give some commendation to PBS for being the only non-cable network to examine what kind of difference a Clinton administration and a Trump administration would mean for climate change policy. Itís shocking that none of the four major networks participated in such a discussion.

Look, climate change might not be a ďsexyĒ news topic, and the coverage may seem repetitive after an issue has been covered, but thatís no excuse to stop covering it. Climate change remains one of the biggest threats to the planet, and as long as political officials are dragging their feet on making the necessary changes, itís the mediaís responsibility to continually call out that failure.

Letís blow up last yearís petition all over again. Itís time to double down and demand that ABC stop ignoring climate change and give it the proper attention it deserves on the networkís newscasts.


Marie W
Marie W5 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Christian M
Christian Menges8 months ago


Patricia H
Patricia Harris9 months ago

Money is Trump's kryptonite. If we can threaten him with what he knows and loves most, we could crush Trump like the puny insect that he is. Start draining the swamp, that is Trump's bank account!!

Patricia H
Patricia Harris9 months ago

Margaret Goodman, Trump is only wasting his time with these impending sea walls. They won't save his precious little golf courses no matter how high he'll make them, so he's just going to have to smarten up and help us combat this thing the RIGHT way. Who says we can't jump on Trump for his incompetence and ignorance? We need to treat him as badly as possible until he finally gives into pressure. We need to show this man what happens to presidents who won't do their job properly. He needs to feel more threatened by all those who oppose him. He needs to feel insecure. We must do what is necessary to get Trump to listen to us, even if it's not pretty. Express yourselves to Trump! Tell him exactly how you feel about him! HIT HIM WHERE IT HURTS!!!!!!

Margaret G
Margaret G9 months ago

Jim Clark wrote of Trump, " ... Yet the liar wants to build sea walls near his golf courses to save them from rising sea levels. ... " Perhaps Trump realizes what's causing the rising sea level, but, as long as he can build his sea walls high enough, probably at someone else's expense, he does not care..

Carl R
Carl R9 months ago


Monica D
Monica D9 months ago

Noted with concern.

Cindy M. Dutka
Cindy M. D9 months ago

We need more awareness, not less! I know there is natural climate change, however, we humans are doing so much damage to this planet. We must wake up and realize actions and changes need to happen FAST! Petition signed.

Philippa Powers
Philippa Powers9 months ago


JT S9 months ago

Generally speaking, I don't trust American corporate media. I'm not referring to conservative vs the basic myth of there being a liberal media, I mean the media that's fed to us by American corporations (i.e. ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, Huffington, etc et al). While they're a somewhat useful starting point, groups like FAIR [Fairness Accuracy In Reporting {] "the national media watch group, has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986. We work to invigorate the First Amendment by advocating for greater diversity in the press and by scrutinizing media practices that marginalize public interest, minority and dissenting viewpoints. As an anti-censorship organization, we expose neglected news stories and defend working journalists when they are muzzled. As a progressive group, FAIR believes that structural reform is ultimately needed to break up the dominant media conglomerates, establish independent public broadcasting and promote strong non-profit sources of information. Uniquely, FAIR works with both activists and journalists. We maintain a regular dialogue with reporters at news outlets across the country, providing constructive critiques when called for and applauding exceptional, hard-hitting journalism. We also encourage the public to contact media with their concerns, to become media activists rather than passive consumers of news." and The Real News ( "'The question we sett