Publications

Poles Apart: the international reporting of climate scepticism

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The Executive Summary can be downloaded free of charge.

Poles Apart is a wide-ranging comparative study on the prevalence of climate  scepticism – in its various forms – in the media around the world. 

It focuses on newspapers in Brazil, China, France, India, the UK, and the USA, but  includes an overview of research on the media of other countries. A wealth of new data is drawn from around 3,000 recent articles on climate change from two newspapers in each of the six countries. 

It concludes that climate scepticism is largely an Anglo-Saxon phenomenon, found most frequently in the US and British newspapers, and explores the reasons why this is so. 

The study also examines whether climate sceptics are more likely to appear in rightleaning than left-leaning newspapers, and in which parts of a newspaper their voices are most heard. 

Poles Apart includes a detailed survey of several hundred articles in ten British national newspapers to see where climate scepticism is most to be found, and which individual sceptics and organisations are most quoted.

The best and most scrupulous study of media reporting of climate change scepticism yet carried out. The author shows that such scepticism is mostly confined to the Anglo-Saxon world and discusses why this is so.

Anthony Giddens, Emeritus Professor and former Director of the London School of Economics

In Poles Apart, James Painter effectively explores the prevalence of climate contrarian claims through international mass media. His report is a detailed, precise and insightful accounting of how these outlier views have shaped on-going negotiations of possible responses to climate challenges.

Dr Max Boykoff, Assistant Professor, University of Colorado-Boulder

This study proves that just like the weather, the degree and nature of coverage of contrarian views on climate change varies widely across the globe. This amount of comparative international data is rare and helps to sketch out some significant long term trends in the media climate.

Dr Joe Smith, Senior Lecturer in Environment, Open University

Poles Apart is a thoroughly researched study that sheds light on how sceptics find their way into the public opinion’s mind through the media – a must-read for journalists who want a better understanding of climate scepticism.

Claudio Angelo, Former Science Editor at Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, Brazil

 

James Painter is the Head of the Journalism Fellowship Programme at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. Previously he worked for several years at the BBC World Service in various capacities including Americas Executive Editor, Head of the Spanish American Service and Head of the BBC Miami office. 

He has written extensively on climate change, the media and Latin America for several organisations and publications, including the BBC, the UNDP, Oxfam and Oxford Analytica. He is the author of the RISJ publications Summoned by Science: Reporting Climate Change at Copenhagen and Beyond and Counter-Hegemonic News: A Case Study of Al-Jazeera English and Telesur.