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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Item #d99mar24

“Climate Whispers: Media Communication about Climate Change,” A. Henderson-Sellers,Climatic Change 40, 421-456 (1998).

A news release on tropical-cyclone intensity and climate change was issued through a service bureau and produced a broad response in Australian and Asian media outlets. Media coverage was comprehensively tracked and compared with the original information with often disarming results. Analysis indicated that balanced scientific stories are difficult to disseminate, poor press releases are serious handicaps, the media often do not check with their sources, and quote marks mean more in the mass media than in the scientific literature. Lessons learned were: (1) never judge colleagues by reports attributed to them by the media, (2) communicating science does not translate into communicating with the public, (3) reporters will slant a story to the interests of their readers, (4) public-relations companies are not to be selected without thorough assessment.

Item #d99mar25

“Is Strange Weather in the Air? A Study of U.S. National Network News Coverage of Extreme Weather Events,” Sheldon Ungar,Climatic Change 40, 133-150 (1999).

The Vanderbilt University Television News Archives for 1965 to 1996 were studied for coverage of heat waves, droughts, hurricanes, and floods. Increased coverage was observed, especially since 1988; but different extreme events do not share equal increases in coverage. Droughts enjoyed twice the attention of heat waves. Moreover, coverage of extreme events did not translate into greater coverage of climate change, and the coverage of extreme events extended largely to U.S. occurrences, with foreign extreme weather and disasters getting little attention.

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