Newspapers from Brazil are covering climate change more frequently, according to a study published last month. The study carried out by the News Agency for Children's Rights and supported by the Climate Change Communication Program at the British Embassy in Brazil evaluated a sample of 997 articles.
The pieces considered comprised news articles, editorials, features, columns and interviews from 50 publications published between July 1st 2005 and June 30 2007.
The authors found that one article was published on the theme every two days in the last quarter of 2006 onwards, while one article was published every five days at the beginning of the time period.
According to the study, the environmental perspective is the main angle from which the media cover the issue (35.8%), followed by looking at the economic impact (19.7%). Only 2% of texts highlight the specific impacts of climate change on low-income populations.
Newspapers also prioritize reporting the impacts of climate change over understanding what is causing it and ways to address the problem.
Around half of the stories that mention a specific location deal with the international scenario alone or its relation to the Brazilian context; the rest focus on climate change in Brazil.
In general, journalists consulted a variety of sources. The most popular were public authorities, experts, technical and academic institutions, private companies and foreign governments. But only 9.5% of articles presented contrasting opinions, and 28.5% didn't mention the sources of information they used.
The authors of the study write that the results should contribute directly to advances in the strategy used by the media to cover climate change.
"They are, at the same time, relevant for expanding the dialogue between different sources of information and media outlets on this issue," they add.
Claudio Angelo Monteiro, science editor of Brazil's largest national newspaper, Folha de S, Paulo, highlights a limitation of the study. According to him, analyzing large national newspapers in the same bag as small local newspapers means that it is hard to see specific trends in national newspapers such as Folha de S. Paulo and O Estado de S. Paulo, which have impact on the national political agenda.
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