How the major TV networks reported Hurricane Ida: Very few mentions of Climate Change

Image Via Bruce Warren

According to a recent 96 hour survey of coverage of Hurricane Ida by major TV news outlets by Media Matters, only 4% of the coverage connected the storm to climate change. The survey, conducted from August 27-30, analyzed 774 TV segments.

The key findings of the analysis included:

  • Corporate broadcast TV outlets — ABC, CBS, and NBC — aired a combined 93 segments about Hurricane Ida during morning and evening news programs from August 27-30. Only 5 of these broadcast news segments referenced climate change.
  • Of the 5 climate mentions, ABC had 3 mentions, while CBS and NBC contributed one each.
  • Cable TV news outlets — CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC — aired a combined 681 segments about Hurricane Ida during all original programming from August 27-30. Only 4% (29) of cable news segments referenced climate change during their Ida coverage.
  • Of the 29 climate mentions, CNN had 5 mentions, Fox News mentioned climate twice, and MSNBC had the most out of all networks with 22.

Media Matters’ position on this coverage is that “the failure to communicate the connection to the climate crisis is media malpractice.” Additionally, the survey analysis also noted that “TV News rooms with a few notable exceptions did not report on Ida through a justice lens.” “The fact that poor communities and communities of color bear the brunt of the climate crisis is chronically undercovered by TV news, particularly in moments when those impacts are most stark,” they write.

Journalists are beginning to cover the impact of extreme weather events beyond the number of inches of water that has fallen in a storm or the strength of the wind during a hurricane. “Good journalism is grounded in science,” suggest Covering Climate Now, a collaboration of 460+ news and media partners “to produce more informed and urgent climate stories, to make climate a part of every beat in the newsroom — from politics and weather to business and culture — and to drive a public conversation that creates an engaged public.”


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