MediaClimate 2.0: Climate politics and networked journalism in the Post-Copenhagen era

The MediaClimate project looks into global climate change coverage in twenty countries. It sets out to analyze climate change in journalism both (1) as a manifestation of the rapidly changing context wherein contemporary journalism takes place and develops and (2) as an illustration of the political re-formation of the issue of climate change in the post-Copenhagen (COP15) era.

Well documented technological, political, economic and cultural changes during the past two decades have paved way to the emergence of networked journalism functioning in an open environment. From this perspective, the project explores how the traditional tasks of professional journalism such as transmission of knowledge, crafting of narratives and shared interpretative frames, facilitating public discourse and functioning as a resource for public action, are re-articulated in the context of contemporary climate change coverage.

The political re-formation of climate change is situated in the aftermath of the climate hype that preceded the Copenhagen climate summit (2009) and the disappointment that followed. Since then, global attention to the issue has decreased and climate policy-making process has stagnated and fragmented. However, through the publication of the next IPCC assessment report (AR5) and through more vociferous calls for climate justice it is somewhat likely that a new intensification of the debate will follow. The project aims to study this forthcoming phase of climate politics as a process, while it happens.

The research design for years 2013–2016 focuses on three main questions:

1. How does journalism “know” about climate change? How the most recent, scientific knowledge about climate change is covered in the global media. The project will follow the publication and coverage of the 5th IPCC assessment report (AR5) in 2013–2014. A global sample of materials for analysis will be gathered in connection to all four partial launches of the report.

2. How do journalists make sense of climate change as part of local and global debates and power struggles? A series of professional dialogues with journalists is planned in order to understand how journalists frame climate politics and innovate and facilitate transnational professional networks. The project will map the emergence of the global, journalistic climate agenda during 2014 and 2015 from the perspective of professional journalists, their interaction with each other and with climate experts and actors.

3. How do political actors take advantage of climate summits as global media events, and how do journalists respond to this strategic communication? A long time series of comparable media data (from the summit in Bali 2007 to the one in Paris 2015) will be analyzed and combined to interviews and network analysis in order to shed light on the dynamics of global media events. In addition, working on the 2015 climate summit in Paris, the project aims to go beyond studying media representations of the summits towards exploring how attention is built, managed and manipulated before and during the summits by different stakeholders.

Duration: 2013–2016

Principal researcher: Risto Kunelius, (risto.kunelius(at) University of Tampere

Funding: Helsingin Sanomat Foundation


Eide, E., Kunelius, R., & Kumpu, V. (eds.). (2010). Global climate, local journalism: A transnational study of how media make sense of climate summits. Bochum, Germany: ProjektVerlag, pp. 11–50.

Eide, E. & Kunelius, R. (2012). Media Meets Climate: The Global Challenge for Journalism. Gothenburg: NORDICOM.

Duarte, K & Yagodin, D (2012). Scientific Leaks: Uncertainties and Skepticism in Climate Change Journalism. (In: Eide & Kunelius).

Eide, E. & A. Ytterstad (2011). The Tainted Hero: Frames of Domestication in Norwegian Press Representation of the Bali Climate Summit. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 16, 1, pp. 50–74.

Kumpu, V. & Rhaman, M. (2012). Futures of the Implicated and the Bystander: Comparing futures imagined in the coverage of climate summits in Bangladesh and Finland. (In: Eide & Kunelius).

Kunelius, Risto (2014, forthcoming). Mediatization of Climate Change. In: Lundy, K (ed). Handbook of Mediatization of Communication. Berlin: De Groyter Mouton.

Kunelius, R. & Eide, E. (2012). Moment of Hope, Mode of Realism. Transnational coverage of UN Climate Change Summits. International Journal of Communication, 6, pp. 1–20.