Communicating climate change
in regional news media
Mikkel Fugl Eskjaer
Department of Media, Cognition and Communication,
University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate regional variations in the international news
coverage of climate change by comparing news reporting in two regional media systems.
Design/methodology/approach – A case study of how COP14 and a European union (EU) summit
on climate change are covered by three Middle Eastern and one Danish newspaper.
Findings – The paper shows signiﬁcant regional differences in the media coverage of climate change
both in terms of quantity (numbers of news articles) and quality (editorial variations, sources, framing,
use of graphics). Overall, the study suggests that regional differences in climate change coverage can
be traced back to the ﬁnancial resources, institutional practices and journalistic ﬁelds of different
regional media systems.
Research limitations/implications – The paper is a pilot project designed to test the analytical
signiﬁcance of regional variations in international media coverage of climate change.
Originality/value – Whereas global variations in climate change coverage have mostly been
documented by (quantitative) content analysis, less research has been devoted to qualitative
differences on how the media approach and frame climate change. Numerical analysis only tells half
the story as qualitative differences, such as editorial priorities, or journalistic practices, can either
increase or decrease the signiﬁcance of quantitative variations. By acknowledging the importance of
regional differences in international news reporting, this paper emphasises the role and function of
regional media systems in conditioning media coverage of climate change.
Keywords Middle East, Denmark, Climatology, Global warming, Information media, Newspapers
Paper type Case study
The relation between media coverage and public awareness of climate change is broadly
recognised (Boykoff and Roberts, 2007; UNDP, 2007, pp. 9, 65-8), although increased
media coverage does not seem to result in immediate transformations of public risk
perception (Leiserowitz, 2006). Media and climate change communication interact in
different ways. On the one hand, media coverage of climate change is conditioned by
international communication systems. On the other hand, climate change coverage is
itself contributing to the global ﬂow of communication, illustrating both the globalisation
(and regionalisation) of the media and the role of news media as a risk forum.
1.1 Climate change in a globalised public sphere
Media coverage of climate change (along with other global issues like AIDS or poverty)
has resulted in an emerging globalised public sphere concerned with shared public
issues and arguments. Such a globalised public sphere must be conceptualised on its
own premises. Rather than a simple extension of the national public sphere, it should
be conceived as a multi-layered structure conditioned by a different set of premises and
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Received 17 April 2009
Revised 13 May 2009
Accepted 25 June 2009
International Journal of Climate
Change Strategies and Management
Vol. 1 No. 4, 2009
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited