The New York Times is one of many major news outlets blowing the story of the century (see “Silence of the Lambs: Media herd’s coverage of climate change “fell off the map” in 2010“).
The one-time “paper of record” cut coverage sharply since its peak in 2006 and 2007 and failed to connect the dots — heck, a headline this week even blamed the recent record-setting Thailand floods on Thai “officials” not “an unusually heavy monsoon season”!
Yet the paper never mentions the collapsing media coverage in the Elisabeth Rosenthal article that takes up nearly the entire front page of the Sunday Review asking (subhed in print edition):
Even as other countries take action, the issue is fading from the American agenda
The piece reminded me of the classic Onion article, “Report: Global warming issue from 2 or 3 years ago may still be problem. Look at the above chart of coverage and then consider this line from the story:
Across the nation, too, belief in man-made global warming, and passion about doing something to arrest climate change, is not what it was five years or so ago, when Al Gore’s movie had buzz and Elizabeth Kolbert’s book about climate change, “Field Notes From a Catastrophe,” was a best seller.
So media coverage collapses and public concern for the issue drops a bit. Go figure!
But the ace investigative reporting team at the Times doesn’t seem to believe the sharp drop in media coverage merits even a single sentence in a piece on why the issue of climate change has faded somewhat.
A major factor not mentioned in this article is the collapse of any significant coverage climate change in the media. We know that 2010 was a record low year, and 2011 will probably look much the same. If the media doesn’t draw attention to the issue, public opinion will decline. The media effects literature clearly shows that the public takes cues on concern over issues from the levels of coverage in the press. So perhaps an interview with the editors of the NY Times and why coverage of climate change is declining and is having its predictable effect on public opinion on this issue.
There are a number of flaws and ironies in the story. Rosenthal writes: