Climate Change in the Press 1999-2001: From Scientific to Narrative Ambiguity

Mark Meisner “Climate Change in the Press 1999-2001: From Scientific to Narrative Ambiguity,” in Proceedings of the 6th Biennial Conference on Communication and Environment, eds. Marie-France Aepli, John W. Delicath and Stephen P. Depoe, pp.78-86, Cincinnati: Center for Environmental Studies and Department of Communication, University of Cincinnati, 2001.


The news media are a key channel in the discourse of climate change. How they present the issue and proposed responses to it will influence how the public and decision-makers perceive and respond to it. A qualitative analysis of newspaper stories about climate change from 1999 to 2000 suggests that newsworkers now largely accept that climate change is occurring, unlike in the past where they tended to regard it as a matter of scientific debate. However the issue is still being framed very restrictively and ambiguously. News constructions of climate change continue to tend offer up a restrictive and vague range of problem definitions, grounds for acting, and ways of addressing the issue. For this reason, among others, the prospects of motivating the public to engage with the issue and its associated policy debates seem no better than before.

Click the image to read the PDF.

Meisner-Climate Change in the Press 1999-2001