Newspaper communication on global warming: Different approaches in the US and the EU?

Astrid Dirikx, Dave Gelders


Global warming is one of the major policy challenges for contemporary societies. The construction and implementation of an environmental policy largely depends on public attitudes. Those public attitudes can be influenced by the mass media in several ways. Therefore, exploring the quality of the media coverage on global warming is important. So far content analyses of the communication on climate change have mostly focused on the USA and the UK press. Although the UK coverage has been examined several times, content analyses in other European countries are very sparse. Research of the EU coverage should be broadened, because previous research suggests that there might be differences in the way American and European media report on global climate change. Content analyses in the US press have shown that in many articles the emphasis is on scientific uncertainty. This critical reporting is less prominent in the UK, and in Germany the emphasis is on scientific certainty. On the other hand, the UK press reflects a very alarmist tone when it covers global warming and Germany describes global warming as a ‘climate catastrophe’, while US newspapers tend to use a more neutral tone. Because these results suggest that there might be differences between US and EU reporting, we argue that more research in Europe is needed and suggest a research method for pursuing it.

Keywords: global warming, climate change, press communication, USA, EU, cultural differences/influences

Full Text:



Communicating Climate Change: Discourses, Mediations and Perceptions
ISBN: 978-989-95500-3-2

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Centro de Estudos de Comunicação e Sociedade (CECS)
Universidade do Minho