Climate change coverage hits 12-month low in wake of pandemic

Articles focused on climate change have hit 12-month lows in Australian media as coronavirus continues to dominate the news cycle.

The percentage of stories mentioning climate change in metropolitan print and online titles fell below one per cent in April for the first time in at least a year.

Climate coverage peaked during Australia’s bushfire crisis in January, being mentioned in 4.6 per cent of stories.

But since then reporting has plummeted. The number of stories mentioning climate change in the first 100 words has fallen 88 per cent, from 873 in January to 101 in April.

That was less than one per cent of the coverage dedicated to coronavirus.

In fact, there were four times more COVID-19 stories in April than climate change articles in the past year.

Coronavirus coverage has reached unprecedented levels of media saturation, being mentioned in up to 80 per cent of stories on some days in March.

That’s always going to impact the amount of media attention available for other topics, however some issues have still managed to cut through in recent weeks.

The George Pell verdict, the release of Malcolm Turnbull’s memoir and the ongoing discussion about football season resumptions are all topics that have generated considerable prominence in the media despite the pandemic.

With coronavirus likely to be around for a considerable time to come, the challenge for climate change academics and activists will be how to wrest back some of the media’s attention to continue the momentum generated last year.

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