Environmental Coverage in the Mainstream News

A report from the Project for Improved Environmental Coverage (PIEC) that investigates the lack of environmental coverage in the news and how improved coverage can lead to a better understanding of challenges and solutions.

PIEC used data from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism to analyze thirty nationally prominent news organizations in the U.S. from January 2011 to May 2012.


The report compares and ranks news organizations among their peers according to how they are prioritizing environmental headlines and also examines public attitudes and pathways for innovation.


  • News organizations are a vital part of the health and functioning of any society.

  • Environmental coverage represented a mere 1.2% of news headlines in the report’s seventeen-month period.

  • Entertainment headlines received over three times more coverage than environmental stories.

  • Fox News had the highest percentage of headline environmental stories among cable and network news outlets. Although, the report noted that quantity of environmental coverage is not a proxy for quality and that running misleading stories, which undermine climate science for example, is not the solution.

  • The Huffington Post was the environmental coverage leader for nationally focused news organizations.

  • Local newspapers perform better than any other news platform when it comes to prioritizing environmental coverage.

  • Anecdotal evidence shows that independent news organizations are also prioritizing environmental coverage much more than mainstream news organizations, and can be looked to as models for replication.

  • Seventy-nine percent of Americans believe news coverage of the environment should be improved.

A Vision for Improved Environmental News Coverage:

  1. Integrate the environmental angle into other stories and make that connection explicit.
  2. Make environmental stories appealing to a larger cross section of society.
  3. Focus more on solutions.
  4. Increase the visibility of environmental stories.



Date: 2013
Strategic Approach: Engagement, Other
Strategic Approach: Engagement, Other

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