Despite Ongoing Climate News, Broadcast Coverage Has Dropped Significantly. Since 2009, when the U.S. House of Representatives passed a climate bill and a major climate conference took place in Copenhagen, the amount of climate coverage on both the Sunday shows (Fox News Sunday,NBC's Meet the Press, CBS' Face the Nation, and ABC's This Week) and the nightly news (NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, and ABC World News) has declined tremendously. This drop comes despite a series of newsworthy stories related to climate change in 2010 and 2011, including a debateover comprehensive climate and energy legislation in the U.S. Senate, a series of record-breakingextreme weather events, notable developments in climate science, the rise of so-called "climate skeptics" in the House of Representatives, and a deal struck at the most recent UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa.
It's not just that broadcast coverage of climate change has fallen, even as evidence of extreme weather events possibly linked to climate change has increased. It's also about media priorities: strikingly, in 2011, the major networks "spent more than twice as much time discussing Donald Trump than climate change." In addition, the networks opted to have no scientists at all on their important Sunday talk shows to discuss climate science.
The problem with all this is clear: as Media Matters points out, the broadcast networks play an "important role in public discourse" on this and other issues. Thus, when the major media decides not to cover an important subject, like climate science, the public discourse is shortchanged. This, in turn, means that dialog on important issues like climate change is ceded largely to those with the money to get their message out. In this case, that would be the fossil fuel industry, which of course has a major financial interest in delaying or preventing policies that might wean us off of carbon-based fuels.
By the way, it's not just climate science that's being shortchanged by the media. Back in September, Media Matters did an analysis regarding media coverage of the Solyndra story. What Media Matters found in that case was "sloppy" and "abundant" coverage of the Solyndra non-scandal, far out of proportion both to the story's significance, and also to other important stories - e.g, "war contract waste and the MMS scandal" - breaking at the same time.
Clearly, certain stories get a great deal more attention from the "mainstream media" than others. Others get essentially no attention at all. The question is, why is this the case and what can be done about it?