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Beware of despair: embracing fear and hope in climate journalism

Ledin, Emmery Rose (2022) Beware of despair: embracing fear and hope in climate journalism. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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Since the mid-20th century, the effects of climate change have worsened around the world, from major temperature fluctuations and sea level rise, to extreme weather events like wildfires, hurricanes and drought (NASA, 2021). Climate scientists have warned of climate change for many years, but the message has fallen upon deaf ears. Climate journalism is media coverage of climate-related events, stories and impacts and has been common in mainstream media since 1988. There has been an increase in this type of journalism in recent years as people become more aware and alarmed. Much of this coverage is fear-based and does not provide much hope for the future, which has proven to be unproductive, and does not inspire the pro-social behaviors necessary for climate change mitigation. The following case study analyzes media coverage of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in August of 2021. The discourse and image analysis found that 55% of articles were fear-based, 24% were balanced between hope and fear and 21% were hope-based articles. To conclude are recommendations for climate journalists informed by Ajzen and Fishbein’s (1980) theory of planned behavior, Azjen’s (1991) theory of reasoned action, Petty and Cacioppo’s (1986) elaboration likelihood model, and McCombs and Shaw’s (1972) agenda setting theory.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: climate chagne; communication; fear; hope; journalism; sustainability;
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Social and Behavioral Science > Sustainable Communities
Date Deposited: 22 May 2023 21:42
Last Modified: 22 May 2023 21:42
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5895

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