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Dr James Painter

Dr James Painter

Research Associate

James Painter ( is a Research Associate at the Reuters Institute.

James was the Director of the Journalism Fellowship Programme for eight years until he stepped down from the role in September 2017, when he took up a position as visiting professor at the IPMZ in the University of Zurich, then at the University of Navarra in Pamplona (2018), then at the University of Perugia (2018).

His main research interests are the portrayals of climate change in legacy, digital-born and social media around the world, and environmental communication in general.

His current research projects include:

  • Animal agriculture, climate change and dietary options in mainstream and social media  (he is a collaborator on the LEAP project at the James Martin School at Oxford University:
  • Climate denialism in the media (he is a senior adviser to the research project on climate denialism coordinated via the Centre for Studies of Climate Change Denialism (CEFORCED) at Chalmers University of Technology at Gothenburg, Sweden:
  • The media portrayals of extreme weather event attribution (he is working with climate researchers at the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University)
  • The growing importance of niche sites on climate change (coordinated via the University of Helsinki)

He is the author of five RISJ publications on climate change: Summoned by Science: Reporting Climate Change at Copenhagen and Beyond (2010); Poles Apart: the international reporting of climate scepticism (2011); Climate Change in the Media: reporting risk and uncertainty (2013); Disaster Adverted? Television Coverage of the 2013/4 IPCC Climate Change Reports (2014) and Something Old, Something New: Digital Media and the Coverage of Climate Change (2016). He is also the author of several academic articles on the media's reporting of climate change.

He writes regularly on climate change in the media and speaks at major international conferences for academics, journalists, policy makers and scientists.  He has given evidence to two recent select committees of the UK Houses of Parliament.

James is a senior teaching associate at the  School of Geography, Oxford University. He teaches the MSc module on climate change, communication and the media, lectures on the same topic, and supervises Masters and PhD students.

He has carried out several consultancies for the IPCC, IPBES, Oxfam, UNDP, Conservation International and other organisations.  

James joined the BBC World Service in 1992, and worked as head of the Spanish American Service, head of the BBC Miami office, and Executive Editor Americas. Prior to joining the BBC, he was a correspondent in Bolivia for four years working for various media in the UK and USA, including the BBC, Reuters, the Independent and the Christian Science Monitor. He has published, or contributed to, several books and articles on Latin America, particularly on the drugs trade, Bolivia and Central America, and Latin American media issues.  He has also researched international news channels.

Recent Publications (2020):

Painter J Brennen JS and Kristiansen S (2020) The coverage of cultured meat in the US and UK traditional media, 2013–2019: drivers, sources, and competing narratives. Climatic Change, DOI 10.1007/s10584-020-02813-3.

Painter J Osaka S Ettinger J and Walton P (2020) ‘Blaming climate change?  How Indian mainstream media covered two extreme weather events in 2015’. Global Environmental Change, 63.

Painter J and Hassol S (2020) Reporting extreme weather events, in Holmes DC and Richardson LM, Research Handbook on Communicating Climate Change. Edward Elgar (forthcoming).

Schäfer M and Painter J (2020) Climate journalism in a changing media ecosystem: Assessing the production of climate change‐related news around the world.  WIREs,

Kristiansen S Painter J Shea M (2020) Animal Agriculture and Climate Change in the US and UK Elite Media: Volume, Responsibilities, Causes and Solutions. Environmental Communication,

Shea M Painter J Osaka S (2020) Representations of Pacific Islands and climate change in US, UK, and Australian newspaper reporting. Climatic Change, 161: 89–108.

Stephance A et al. (including Painter J) (2020) The 2019 review of IPBES and future priorities: reaching beyond assessment to enhance policy impact.  Ecosystems and People, 16(1):70-77.


J. Painter (2016) Something Old, Something New: Digital Media and the Coverage of Climate Change, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford

J. Painter (2013) Climate Change in the Media: Reporting Risk and Uncertainty, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford

J. Painter (Editor) India’s Media Boom: The Good News and the Bad, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford, 2013

J. Painter (2011) Poles Apart: The International Reporting of Climate Scepticism, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford

J. Painter (2010) Summoned by Science: Reporting Climate Change at Copenhagen And Beyond, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford

J. Painter (2008) Counter-Hegemonic News: A Case Study of Al-Jazeera English and Telesur, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford

Book Chapters

Painter J. and Schafer M. (2019). Global Similarities and Persistent Differences: A Survey of Comparative Studies on Climate Change Communication in Brevini B. and Lewis J. (eds.), Climate Change and the media, New York: Peter Lang.

Painter J. (2016) ‘Disaster, Risk or Opportunity? A Ten-Country Comparison of Themes in Coverage of the IPCC AR5’ in Media and Global Climate Knowledge: Journalism and the IPCC, Kunelius, R., Eide, E., Tegelberg, M., Yagodin, D. (eds)

Painter J. (2015) ‘Quels ont été les grands traits de l’évolution de l’opinion publique mondiale vis-à-vis du changement climatique?’, in Petit M. (ed.), Climat - le temps d’agir, Cherche-Midi.

Journal Articles

Osaka S Painter J Walton P Halperin A (2019) Media Representation of Extreme Event Attribution: A Case Study of the 2011-2017 California Drought. Weather, Climate and Society, 2020. doi/pdf/10.1175/WCAS-D-19-0050.1.

Painter J (2019) Climate Change Journalism: Time to Adapt. Environmental Communication, 13:3, 424-429, DOI: 10.1080/17524032.2019.1573561

Painter J., Kristiansen S., and Schafer M. (2018). How ‘Digital-born’ media cover climate change in comparison to legacy media: A case study of the COP 21 summit in Paris. Global Environmental Change, January, (48), 1-10.

Painter J., (2018). Journalistic Depictions of Uncertainty about Climate Change Across Countries in Nisbet M. (ed.), The Oxford Encyclopedia of Climate Change Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Previously available online at DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190228620.013.

Kundzewicz Z. W., Painter J., and Kundzewicz W.J., (2017). Climate Change in the Media: Poland’s Exceptionalism, Environmental Communication, December.

Painter J., and Gavin, N. (2016). Climate Skepticism in British newspapers, 2007 – 2011. Environmental Communication, 10:4, 432-452.

Howarth C., and Painter J. (2016).  Exploring the science–policy interface on climate change: The role of the IPCC in informing local decision-making in the UK. Palgrave Communications 2, article number 16058, Doi: 10.1057.

Painter J., (2015). ‘Disaster, uncertainty, opportunity or risk? Key messages from the television coverage of the IPCC’s 2013/4 reports’, Metode Science Studies Journal, 85.

McGaurr L., Lester L., and Painter J. (2013). Risk, uncertainty and opportunity in climate change coverage: Australia compared. Australian Journalism Review

Painter, J. and Ashe, T. (2012). Cross-national comparison of the presence of climate scepticism in the print media in six countries, 2007-2010. Environmental Research Letters, 7(4), 1-8.


Painter J. and Walton P. (2017), Raising risk awareness in East Africa and India: Stakeholder perspectives of extreme weather event attribution. CDKN, London. August.

Painter J. (2015) The effectiveness of the IPCC communication: a survey of (mainly) UK-based users. Advance paper for IPCC Expert Meeting on Communication (February 2016, Oslo, Norway), available here

J. Painter (2014) Disaster Averted? Television Coverage of the 2013/14 IPCC's Climate Change Reports, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford


Painter J. (2019) Climate Change Journalism: Time to Adapt, Environmental Communication.

Painter J. (2015). ‘What’s the point of the Met Office? Easy to miss when you ignore the facts’.  The Conversation, 7 August.

Painter J. (2015) ‘Taking a Bet on Risk’.  Commentary. Nature Climate Change, 25 March.

Painter J. (2014) ‘From Uncertainty to Risk: new languages in climate change communication’. Climate Science Policy.  27 November.

Painter J. (2014) ‘Doom and gloom won’t do it – here’s how to sell the climate change message’.  The Conversation, 23 September.