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.”


USA Today newsroom improving its diversity hiring

Image Via USA Today

USA TODAY, reported on September 1, that their newsroom is now majority female, and has sees gains in Black, Hispanic and Asian American journalists. In a recent staff survey about diversity and inclusion in the newsroom. The newspaper reports that “women were 51.7% of all journalists. We also made strides in the percentage of Black (13.6%), Hispanic (10.1%) and Asian American (7%) journalists. Overall, the newsroom was 34% journalists of color.”

According to USA TODAY, the survey did not currently include data on sexual orientation or gender identity. The paper said their “goal is to reflect the diversity of the U.S. by 2025; to be able to fully and accurately report the stories of our country,” they write, “we must reflect it.”

Much has been written, increasingly over the last couple of years, about the importance of diversity in the newsroom. It is one of the most important challenges and opportunities in media and journalism. In 2020, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism surveyed newsroom leaders from 38 countries to gather insight into how the issues facing society are impacting the news coverage that is being served to the public.

The Reuters executive summary sets up the context for the research:

The year 2020 has meant deep disruption for journalism as the global COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected people’s health, habits, and livelihoods. Journalists play a central role in reporting on these changes even while simultaneously being personally affected by them. Lockdowns and safety restrictions have changed the way news is produced, with long hours and extensive remote working making communication and day-to-day production more complex. COVID-19 has also increased economic uncertainty after a steep decline in advertising revenues, leading to widespread layoffs and increased pressure on an already challenged industry.

At the same time, high-profile events have brought to the surface a series of social and generational changes and fundamental disagreements that are testing newsrooms in other ways. The killing of George Floyd in Minnesota and the Black Lives Matter protests have helped focus attention on racial injustice and social inequality and led to questions around the media’s coverage of these issues. Prompted also by the #MeToo movement, documented instances of sexual abuse and harassment in the media, and continued disclosure of gender pay gaps, newsrooms across the world have been wrestling with how to confront enduring forms of social inequality internally and how to better represent audiences through greater diversity in their news coverage.

Reuters Institute

Journalism and media outlets need more successful initiatives to invest in media makers of color. It’s essential that those who are reporting the stories and the history of our times are reflective of all the communities who are living those experiences.

Digital media consumer behavior research sources

First, there are the brands: Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, NPR, Amazon Music, Audible, Google Play, iHeartRadio, and other companies like Stitcher, TuneIn, RadioPublic, and Luminary, all wanting a piece of the audio (and growing video) audience and market.

Then there are the technologies and social media platforms: podcasts, streaming, smart speakers, in-car media, and others.

In trying to understand the media landscape, there are a few sources of information for digital media consumer behavior research.

Since 1998, Edison Research has been conducting an annual research study of digital media consumer behavior in American called The Infinite Dial. In the recent survey, Edison made the following observations based on their findings:

Online audio has reached a new high in weekly time spent listening, potentially driven by podcasting and smart speakers.

Podcasting has reached a milestone, with the majority of Americans now saying they have ever listened to one.

Along with the increases in podcast listening, audiobook consumption also surged, indicating a trend towards increased spoken word audio consumption.

Smart speaker ownership continues to grow, approaching one in four Americans age 12+. The average smart speaker user possesses two devices.

In addition to the Infinite Dial project, the Pew Research Center evaluates listening to content in the United States by terrestrial radio listening, online listening and other sources and devices. Pew makes available a broad range of topics, data and insight into media and news, internet and technology, social media, and other valuable information.

Along with the Edison Research data and Pew Research, another source is Nielsen, a global measurement and data analytics company.

Using these sources to help understand digital media consumer behavior will be able to help you evaluate the current media landscape and identify current trends and nascent/emerging platforms.

Covergence Culture

image via

When Henry Jenkins, the author of Covergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide talks about convergence, he means “the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behavior of media audiences who would go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they wanted.”

He continues:

Convergence is a word that manages to describe technological, industrial, cultural, and social changes, depending on who’s speaking and what they think they are talking about. In the world of media convergence, every important story gets told, every brand gets sold, every consumer gets courted across multiple media platforms. Right now, convergence culture is getting defined top-down by decisions being made in corporate boardrooms and bottom-up by decisions made in teenagers’ bedrooms. It is shaped by the desires of media conglomerates to expand their empires across multiple platforms and by the desires of consumers to have the media they want where they want it, when they want it, and in the format they want….

In a 2010 Ted Talk, Jenkins talked about how media convergence is an ongoing process that occurs at various intersections of technology, industry, content, and audiences.

Watch the video below.