243979 Surveillance or Coping? Analysis of News Media's Coverage of Climate Change

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Myoungsoon You , Graduate School of Public Health, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea
Youngkee Ju , School of Communication, Hallym University, Chuncheon, South Korea
Background The news media's role connecting experts' discourse to public risk perception became significant with the rise of climate change, which has become a global threat. We attempted to identify the features of news coverage on climate change in three aspects: news frame, geographic implication, and the affective tone of each story.

Methods News coverage by the two representatively conservative and liberal Korean newspapers, Chosun-Ilbo and Hankyoreh, from 2003 to 2010 was examined. News stories mentioning “climate change' or “global warming” were under investigation. The Surveillance frame was operationalized as selecting and organizing news facts in a way to make diagnosis of current and future impacts by global warming salient. Coping is orienting toward individual and societal preventive activities to reduce risks.

Result A dramatic increase in the amount of news coverage was found. The annual average number of stories during the first four years was 57.5 (Chosun-Ilbo) and 88.8 (Hankyoreh) while that of the latter four years was 502.5 and 335.0, respectively (p<.05). Covering the issue, Chosun-Ilbo employed coping (N=303) more frequently than surveillance (N=145, P<.01). Hankyoreh showed a similar pattern (N=187 versus 152, p=.065). An interesting difference was found in geographic implication. Whereas Chosun-Ilbo mentioned ‘global' aspects of climate change (M=1.24) more than domestic ones (M= .73, p< .01), there wasn't much of a difference in Hankyoreh (M=1.31 and 1.23, N.S.). Finally, Chosun-Ilbo delivered more positive stories (M=2.41) than negative ones (M=1.56, p< .01), reporting the conservative government's relevant policies. Hankyoreh had an equal amount of both positive and negative stories (M=1.50 and 1.25, N.S.).

Conclusion The news media's highly increased attention was encouraging. The two papers, however, showed different patterns of coverage. Further studies to address the practical implication of these disparities and alternatives to improve news media's mediating role in risk communication are recommended.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Environmental health sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify key trends in Korean news media’s reporting of climate change 2. Suggest how to improve journalism’s mediation function of covering climate change.

Keywords: Climate Change, Media Message

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: One of the co-authors is an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Public Health at Seoul National University in Korea. She worked on the study about the predictors of women’s risk perception of breast cancer as her dissertation. She is leading a few studies on key factors of risk perception of health and environmental risks (e.g. nanotechnology, climate change). The other author is an assistant professor in the School of Communication at Hallym University in Korea. He has been working on examining current states of health journalism and seeking alternatives to improve the quality of health journalism in Korea. The authors have two publications of health journalism and health risk. This is our first time to present in APHA.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.