Environmental Concerns and the Media

  • Bruce Tranter
  • Libby LesterEmail author
  • Lyn McGaurr
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Media and Environmental Communication book series (PSMEC)


Several leaders quoted in Chap. 2 lamented that the environmental movement had not performed well on the issue of climate change. To test this, we compare the news representation of environmental issues and EMOs in Australian federal elections from 1990 to 2013. We are interested in whether that coverage has changed over time. We then focus in depth on the intensity and range of coverage of EMOs and environmental issues during the 2013 election campaign, particularly in relation to behind-the-scenes media practices of EMOs and their leaders, including the circulation of media releases and other campaign material, and levels of activity on social media and organisation websites. We find that this activity did not translate into high visibility in news media for EMOs and their leaders. We also offer tentative evidence of a link between the dominance of climate-change coverage and the poor visibility of EMOs and other environmental issues in metropolitan media.


  1. ABC News. 2015. Landcare Co-founder and Indigenous Advocate Phillip Toyne Dies Aged 67. 14 June 2015. Viewed 7 July 2017.
  2. AAP. 2013a. More than 1000 Rally for Barrier Reef. Brisbane Times, 25 August. Accessed 20 Feb 2014.
  3. AAP. 2013b. More than 1000 Rally for Reef in Brisbane. Australian, 25 August. Accessed 4 April 2014.
  4. AAP. 2013c. More than 1000 Rally for Reef in Brisbane. Courier Mail, 25 August. Accessed 4 April 2014.
  5. Advertiser. 2013. Thousands Rally for Reef. 26 August, p. 12.Google Scholar
  6. Allan, Stuart. 2004. News Culture, 2nd ed. Berkshire: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Anderson, Alison. 1997. Media, Culture and Environment. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Australian. 2013. Your State: Rally Calls for Boost to Reef Protection. Queensland Country Edition, 26 August, p. 2.Google Scholar
  9. Australian Conservation Foundation. 2014. Election 2013: Our Environment, Your Call. Accessed 20 Feb 2014.
  10. Bacon, Wendy. 2011. A Sceptical Climate: Media Coverage of Climate Change in Australia 2011: Part 1—Climate Change Policy. Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, University of New South Wales, Sydney. Accessed 13 April 2013.
  11. Bean, Clive, Ian McAllister, and John Warhurst (eds.). 1990. The Greening of Australian Politics. Melbourne: Longman Cheshire.Google Scholar
  12. Beck, Ulrich. 2009. World at Risk. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  13. Boykoff, Maxwell T. 2014. Media Discourse on the Climate Slowdown. Nature Climate change 4 (3): 156–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Boykoff, Maxwell T., and Jules M. Boykoff. 2007. Climate Change and Journalistic Norms: A Case-Study of US Mass-Media Coverage. Geoforum 38 (6): 1190–1204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Brockington, Daniel. 2013. Celebrity, Environmentalism and Conservation. In Environmental Conflict and the Media, ed. Libby Lester and Brett Hutchins. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  16. Business Spectator. 2013. Wilkie Gains in Climate Ranking. 27 August. Accessed 20 February 2013.
  17. Carvalho, Anabela, and Jacquelin Burgess. 2005. Cultural Circuits of Climate Change in U.K. Broadsheet Newspapers, 1985–2003. Risk Analysis 25 (6): 1457–1469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Castells, Manuel. 2013. Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  19. Climate Institute. 2013. Pollute-O-Meter: How Do the Parties’ Climate Policies Stack Up? Accessed 20 Feb 2013.
  20. Collins, Catherine. 2013. Clear Cuts on Clearcutting: YouTube, Activist Videos and Narrative Strategies. In Environmental Conflict and the Media, ed. Libby Lester and Brett Hutchins. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  21. Cottle, Simon. 2000. Rethinking News Access. Journalism Studies 1 (3): 427–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Cox, Robert. 2012. Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  23. Crikey. 2013. ACF Confused over Election Endorsements. 2 September. Accessed 20 Feb 2014.
  24. Della Porta, Donatella, and Sidney Tarrow. 2005. Transnational Protest and Global Activism. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  25. Downs, Anthony. 1972. Up and Down with Ecology—The ‘Issue-Attention Cycle’. The Public Interest 28: 38–50.Google Scholar
  26. Deacon, David, and Peter Golding. 1994. Taxation and Representation: The Media, Political Communication and the Poll Tax. London: Libbey.Google Scholar
  27. DeLuca, Kevin Michael. 2005. Image Politics: The New Rhetoric of Environmental Activism. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  28. Dryzek, John S. 2013. The Politics of the Earth: Environmental Discourses. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Dumas, D. 2013. Well Schooled. Sydney Morning Herald, 30 August, p. 14.Google Scholar
  30. Ezzy, Douglas. 2002. Qualitative Analysis—Practice and Innovation. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
  31. Greenpeace Australia Pacific. 2013. Photos: Thousands Rally to Save the Reef. 26 August. Accessed 20 Feb 2014.
  32. Greenpeace Australia Pacific. n.d.a. Not Here, Not Anywhere. Accessed 20 Feb 2014.
  33. Greenpeace Australia Pacific. n.d.b. Shell’s Priceless Grand Prix Moment. Accessed 20 Feb 2013.
  34. Hansen, Anders. 2010. Environment, Media and Communication. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. Hansen, Anders. 2011. Communication, Media and Environment: Towards Reconnecting Research on the Production, Content and Social Implications of Environmental Communication. International Communication Gazette 73 (1–2): 7–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hanson, Fergus. 2012. The Lowy Institute Poll 2012: Public Opinion and Foreign Policy. The Lowy Institute for International Policy. Accessed 13 March 2014.
  37. Hall, J. 2001. How the Environmental Beat Got its Groove Back. Columbia Journalism Review 40 (2): 10.Google Scholar
  38. Hall, Stuart, Chas Critcher, Tony Jefferson, John Clarke, and Brian Roberts. 1978. Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order. New York: Holmes and Meier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hilgartner, Stephen, and Charles L. Bosk. 1988. The Rise and Fall of Social Problems: A Public Arenas Model. The American Journal of Sociology 94 (1): 53–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kearney, Ged, Cassandra Goldie, Don Henry, and John Connor. 2013. Efficient Power for the Poor. Australian, 21 August, p. 14. Viewed 20 Feb 2014.
  41. Leiserowitz, Anthony, Geoff Feinberg, Seth Rosenthal, Nicholas Smith, Ashley Anderson, Connie Roser-Renouf, and Edward Maibach. 2014. What’s in a Name? Global Warming vs Climate Change. Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. Accessed 15 July 2014.
  42. Lester, Libby. 2005. Wilderness and the Loaded Language of News. Media International Australia 115: 123–134.Google Scholar
  43. Lester, Libby. 2010. Media and Environment: Conflict, Politics and the News. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  44. Lester, Libby. 2013. On Flak, Balance and Activism, the Ups and Downs of Environmental Journalism. In Journalism Research and Investigation in a Digital World, ed. Stuart Tanner and Nick Richardson. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Lester, Libby. 2014. Transnational Publics and Environmental Conflict in the Asian Century. Media International Australia 150: 67–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lester, Libby, and Simon Cottle. 2009. Visualising Climate Change: TV News and Ecological Citizenship. International Journal of Communication 3: 920–936.Google Scholar
  47. Lester, Libby, and Simon Cottle. 2011. Transnational Protests and the Media: Toward Global Civil Society. In Transnational Protests and the Media, ed. Simon Cottle and Libby Lester. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.Google Scholar
  48. Lester, Libby, and Brett Hutchins. 2012. The Power of the Unseen: Environmental Conflict, the Media and Invisibility. Media, Culture and Society 34 (7): 847–863.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lockwood, Alex. 2013. Affecting Environments: Mobilizing Emotion and Twitter in the UK Save Our Forests Campaign. In Environmental Conflict and the Media, ed. Libby Lester and Brett Hutchins. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  50. McCarthy, John D., and Mayer N. Zald. 1977. Resource Mobilization and Social Movements: A Partial Theory. American Journal of Sociology 82: 1212–1241.Google Scholar
  51. McComas, Katherine, and James Shanahan. 1999. Telling Stories About Global Climate Change: Measuring the Impact of Narratives on Issue Cycles. Communicating Research 26 (1): 30–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Maries, C. 2013. Could SA’s Lifeblood Run Dry. Advertiser, 30 August, p. 22.Google Scholar
  53. McAllister, Ian, and Sarah Cameron. 2013. Trends in Australian Political Opinion: Results from the Australian Election Study, 1987–2013. School of Politics & International Relations: Australian National University, Canberra.Google Scholar
  54. McCright, Aaron, and Riley Dunlap. 2011. The Politicization of Climate Change and Polarization in the American Public’s Views of Global Warming 2001–2010. The Sociological Quarterly 52: 155–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. McGaurr, Lyn, Libby Lester, and James Painter. 2013. Risk, Uncertainty and Opportunity in Climate Change Coverage: Australia Compared. Australian Journalism Review 35 (2): 21–34.Google Scholar
  56. Mikkelsen, John. 2013. Battle for the Reef Rages Below the Poll Surface. Crikey, 19 August. Accessed 20 Feb 2014.
  57. Pakulski, Jan, and Stephen Crook. 1998. The Environment in Australian Print Media, 1982–1996. In The Ebbing of the Green Tide? Environmentalism, Public Opinion and the Media in Australia, ed. Jan Pakulski and Stephen Crook. Occasional Paper Series No. 5, School of Sociology and Social Work, University of Tasmania, Hobart.Google Scholar
  58. Phillips, Sarah. 2013. The Election that Forgot the Environment. Environment Blog, ABC, 16 August. Accessed 3 Feb 2014.
  59. Schneiders, L. 2013. Fox in Charge of Chooks. Australian, 23 August, p. 12.Google Scholar
  60. Stefanova, K. 2013. Climate of the Nation 2013: Australian Attitudes on Climate Change, The Climate Institute. Accessed 11 April 2014.
  61. Sydney Morning Herald. 2013. Threatened Protest Ship Leaves Arctic, 28 August, p. 17.Google Scholar
  62. Taube, A. 2013. Greenpeace Ruined Shell’s PR Moment with this Brilliant Prank. Business Insider Australia, 29 August. Accessed 20 Feb 2014.
  63. Tchilinguirian, L. 2013. WWF Australia has Released an Environmental Scorecard of the Main Political Parties. Interview with WWF CEO Dermott O’Gorman, News Radio, ABC, updated 4 September 2013. Accessed 20 Feb 2014.
  64. Thrall, Trevor A., Dominik Stecular, and Diana Sweet. 2014. May We Have Your Attention Please? Human-Rights NGOs and the Problem of Global Communications. International Journal of Press/Politics 19 (2): 135–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Tranter, Bruce. 2009. Leadership and Change in the Tasmanian Environment Movement. The Leadership Quarterly 20 (5): 708–724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Tranter, Bruce. 2010. Environmental Activists and Non-active Environmentalists in Australia. Environmental Politics 19 (3): 413–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Tranter, Bruce. 2011. Political Divisions over Climate Change. Environmental Politics 20 (1): 78–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Tranter, Bruce. 2012. Social and Political Influences on Environmentalism in Australia. Journal of Sociology. doi: 10.1177/1440783312459103.Google Scholar
  69. Trumbo, Craig. 1996. Constructing Climate Change: Claims and Frames in US News Coverage of an Environmental Issue. Public Understanding of Science 5 (3): 269–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. van Vuuren, Kitty. 2013. Online Media, Flak and Local Environmental Politics. In Environmental Conflict and the Media, ed. Libby Lester and Brett Hutchins. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  71. Waisbord, Silvio. 2011. Can NGOs Change the News? International Journal of Communication 5: 24.Google Scholar
  72. Waisbord, Silvio. 2013. Contesting Extractivism: Media and Environmental Citizenship in Latin America. In Environmental Conflict and the Media, ed. Libby Lester and Brett Hutchins. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  73. Waisbord, Silvio, and Enrique Peruzzotti. 2009. The Environmental Story that Wasn’t: Advocacy, Journalism and the Asambleísmo Movement in Argentina. Media, Culture and Society 31 (5): 691–709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Withey, A. 2013. Protesters March in Brisbane over Coal Shipments out of Barrier Reef’. 7 pm TV News, ABC, Queensland, 25 August, updated 26 August. Accessed 20 Feb 2014.
  75. WWF Australia. 2013. Australian Actors Hit Small Screen for Climate Change: WWF Launches ‘I AM REAL’ AD CAMPAIGN’, WWF Australia, 22 August. Accessed 20 Feb 2014.
  76. WWF Australia. n.d. I am Real: I am Planet Earth. YouTube. Accessed 20 Feb 2014.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  2. 2.University of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  3. 3.University of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

Personalised recommendations