Warmest Year On Record Received Cool Climate Coverage

An analysis by Media Matters examines broadcast news coverage of climate change, including the impact of extreme weather events on programming and the prominence of scientific findings in relation to politics.


Despite record-breaking temperatures and extreme weather events, news coverage of climate change on major television networks remained low in 2012.


2012 was the warmest year in recorded history in the U.S., with heat waves, drought, wildfires and Hurricane Sandy, yet coverage of climate change on broadcast news outlets was minimal.

Climate change coverage on Sunday shows has declined since 2009 and the small amount of coverage is dominated by politics rather than science. Sunday shows also failed to quote Democratic politicians on climate change, but instead featured Republican politicians who were critical of efforts to address climate change.

Extreme weather events led to a slight increase in climate change coverage on nightly news programs in 2012.

Nightly news programs were much more likely than Sunday shows to include interviews or quotes from scientists in their climate coverage.

A mere 11% of climate coverage on Sunday shows conveyed that scientists agree on global warming, while scientific consensus was alluded to by 60% of nightly news coverage.


Photo via (cc) Flickr user jetsandzeppelins

Date: 2013
Organization: Media Matters
Strategic Approach: Audiences, Engagement, Other
Organization: Media Matters
Strategic Approach: Audiences, Engagement, Other

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