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Media Coverage of Global Warming in America

In: English and Literature

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Media Coverage of Global Warming in America

Ashley Palac

ENG/220

December 7, 2015
Paul Korzeniowski

Media Coverage of Global Warming in America

Global warming is a widely accepted theory in the scientific community today, both here in America as well as internationally. However, thanks in part to selective media coverage, opinions on the matter still vary widely in the general population. The average American has a number of ways and means of receiving information available to them, including the 24-hour cable news channels that have become popular in recent years. In order to achieve and maintain regular viewership and ratings, the content of these cable news channels, specifically Fox News and CNN, has become increasingly one-sided. As a result, the general public has taken varying stances on the issue, thanks in part to the media’s use of one-sided broadcasts and biased sources and interview guests.
The Biased Media Fox News has always claimed to be a balanced source for news. At the same time, “Fox News was originally conceived as an antidote to what many conservatives see as a liberal bias in the mainstream media.” (Feldman, Maibach, Roser-Renouf, & Leiserowitz, 2012, page 5, para. 4) The whole basis for the channel’s creation was to present the American public with a source of conservative news. Because of this, Fox News broadcasters were more likely to be dismissive of the idea of global warming being real as that is a common conservative or Republican stance on the issue. One study found that Fox News is the most likely to be dismissive of global warming with almost 60 percent of its’ broadcasts taking a dismissive viewpoint, while less than 20 percent were found to be accepting of global warming (Feldman et al., 2012). Specifically, Fox News broadcasters tend to focus on the uncertainty within the scientific community regarding global warming, even though that portion of the scientific community is in the minority (Feldman et al., 2012). Comparatively, CNN is also a biased news source, albeit from a liberal or Democratic viewpoint. The same study found that 70 percent of CNN’s broadcasts were accepting of global warming, while only 7 percent were dismissive (Feldman et al., 2012). In keeping with the idea that Fox News broadcasters will focus their content on the minority of scientists that dismiss global warming, the broadcasters willfully leave the mountains of scientific data that support global warming out of their broadcasts. In fact, since 1990 the number of scientific sources cited in all news pieces about global warming has decreased while the number of politicians and interest groups cited has increased (Kim, 2011). Fox News broadcasts were found to be much more likely to challenge the scientific agreement that global warming is real, as compared to CNN, which was found to be much more likely to affirm that sentiment (Feldman et al., 2012). Because of this trend, “relatively few Republicans rate dealing with global warming as a top concern, and partisan disagreement over the importance of this issue have increased considerably.” (Kim, 2011, page 691, para. 2) While Fox News has been citing scientific sources less, they have also been interviewing fewer scientists that could contradict their rhetoric. The ratio of believers as compared to doubters that were interviewed during broadcasts varied greatly between Fox News and CNN. “At least 80 percent of CNN interview broadcasts featured more believers than doubters, whereas only 31 percent of Fox broadcasts did so.” (Feldman et al., 2012, page 17, para. 1) Conversely, almost 40 percent of Fox broadcasts interviewed more doubters than believers, compared to only 10 percent of CNN broadcasts (Feldman et al., 2012).
Conclusion
The trend of one sided broadcasts on both sides of the issue have led to the American public being divided on the importance, or even the existence, of global warming. The media sources that should be providing the people with the facts on important issues are instead focusing their efforts on furthering their own agendas, whatever they might be, through the use of biased broadcasts, sources and interview guests.

References

Feldman, L., Maibach, E. W., & Roser-Renouf, C., & Leiserowitz, A. (2012, January). Climate on Cable The Nature and Impact of Global Warming Coverage on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 17(1), 3-31. Retrieved from http://hij.sagepub.com.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/content/17/1/3

Kim, K. S. (2011, September). Public understanding of the politics of global warming in the news media: the hostile media approach. Public Understanding of Science, 20(5), 690 -705. Retrieved from http://pus.sagepub.com.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/content/20/5/690…...

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