Sample Paper on Role of the Media on Climate Change


The media plays a major role in educating the public on the importance of efforts to repair and preserve an already damaged environment. However, media (especially mainstream media) concentrates most of their resources to cover entertainment news. On average, a normal day broadcast gives entertainment headlines three times more coverage in comparison to environment issues. Rather than focus on entertainment, crime and politics, mainstream media should focus more of their airtime and newspapers to support environment upgrading through exposing the effects of a degrading environment to the climate.

In a research conducted by the by Patterson (2011), results indicated that Fox news with the highest percentage of coverage in environmental issues, only registered 1.57% of the time. Globe and Mail had the highest among global networks with only 1.43% of the time. Independent news organizations registered a higher percentage than mainstream media. Some outlets such as Vancouver Media Corporation averaged fifteen times more coverage of environmental issues than some national mainstream media house coverage (Patterson, 2012). The Huffington Post based in U.S registered the highest level of coverage with up to 3% of the headlines. This percentage translates to over three times the national average making it the leader in campaigning for environmental preservation.

The increased number of occurrences in wars over limited resources, scarcity in food in various parts of the world and climate shifts is indicators to the impact of a degrading environment. The media is extremely important in leading the campaign to preserve the environment to ensure the safety and welfare of the future generation by increasing coverage of environmental stories in regular news releases. This paper seeks to determine the role of the media in representing key environmental issues to the public efficiently amidst distractions.

 The need for quality

Although mainstream media is criticized (for example by the Union of Concerned Scientists) for it neglect on environmental issues, quantity of information not necessarily as is important as quality. Much coverage does not guarantee accuracy and quality information that is effective in educating the public.

Mainstream media

They include Television networks, national news channels, websites and large newspapers. Such include Globe and mail, CBC and Vancouver Sun and are easy to find and reach larger audiences compared to independent media sources.

To improve environmental reporting, a group of journalists created the Vision for Improved Environmental Reporting that entailed a strategic plan to achieve their mission of increasing environmental stories coverage. The pillars in the strategy included; incorporating the environmental aspects into other stories to create a relationship between them and evident connection, focusing on solutions (rather than problems alone) and make environmental stories more appealing to capture a larger audience.

In the effort to maintain good relationships with owners as well as advertisers, the mainstream media firms engage in market censorship. By censoring some information, these media houses avoid crucial information especially concerning effects of industrialization on climate change. Despite the fact that there is no existent restriction by the government to these kinds of censorship details, mainstream media opt for this solution to maintain their business by avoiding unnecessary conflicts with sponsors.

Environmental and political issues are the main reasons hindering journalists from publishing their stories (especially on investigative news) in major networks. According to Polumbaum, there is evidence of corporate influence even in the supposedly freest of the mainstream media houses available. A journalist attempting to oppose or challenge the powerful government simply fails to get their work published.

Since these media platforms barely contradict or stop corporate manipulation, they are not appropriate tools for advocating for a safe environment. This inability is because some corporations run firms that affect the environment yet make a fortune from the business. Such businesses include mining in which although it degrades the environment, generates huge income as a big contributor to a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Independent media

Independent media outlets are usually smaller than the mainstream media. Most of these outlets are conservative based and have liberal perspectives. They include Vancouver Media Corporation, Tyee and These are the appropriate tools for advocating for a safe environment in globalization. Unlike mainstream media, they rarely air news in Television. However, they provide information online where most of them opt to establish their reputation, on radio, newsprint and other publications. With smaller budgets compared to mainstream media, they employ a smaller workforce and concentrate on the Internet (as a cheaper means of communication). With less interference from corporate control, the independent media is an effective tool for activism in favor for environmental restoration and preservation (Reuters, 2012).

A free press

In an article posted in the Columbia Journalism Review (2012), the writer emphasized the need and role of free media in maintaining a democratic society. The first Amendment of the U.S constitution is, in one way, recognition for the vital role the media has played over the years in the effort to maintain a free American society. The media was granted extra protection to allow honest and accurate information is available that will promote transparency in governmental systems. A free press is however, not effective without a literate society. Education, therefore, becomes a priority for every government seeking to establish a press with rights and privileges to cover events and provide information without any fear of interference. Beginning in Europe, the idea of education as a core of the struggle to promote freedom in a society, spread across the globe

Climate change

With more governments turning their focus and efforts to conserve the environment to prevent adverse effects of degradation, mainstream media overwhelmingly, support the campaign by highlighting the events largely. As long as the stakeholders and influential individuals and companies associated with the media houses are in support of programs for environment conservation, the media can feature them in the news.

The independent media, on the other hand, provides information regardless of the opinion or actions of governments or influential people in the society. As a result, independent media is more critical to the negative actions directed towards diminishing the efforts to improve the safety of the environment than the mainstream media.

Disseminating Information

The role of the mainstream media in developing stories in the news on environmental issues is extremely important. In order to achieve accurate news in the industry, there are several independent roles and a variety of actors dedicated to the dissemination and production of mediums available to the global audience. Such distinct contributing actors include; freelancers, broadcast news staff, newsprint staff, wire service providers and citizen journalists.

The role of freelancers

They work on short contracts (temporary basis) and cover a wide range of media. Their schedule is more flexible than their full time employed counterparts. Large new agencies utilize such journalists especially in regions that the companies do not have either legal access or find it too costly or dangers. The rapid growth of this industry owes to the fact that companies seek to reduce their wage budget by laying off salaried staff in favor for freelancers (Polumbaum, 2009).

Freelancers specialize in exploring and covering events in dangerous regions or distant places (too far for news organizations). Such areas include war extremely remote regions like the Amazon, the Congo forest or Mount Himalayas with hostile barbaric people who interfere more than they support the missions. They obtain either whole stories or raw data in all forms (video, still photos, sounds or text) by all means possible. They, therefore, dedicate themselves to international assignments hence enabling media organizations to cover a wide area.

In working with large news agencies adamant to undertake the assignments, the freelancers need to establish and confirm the fact that their work will sell before they begin working. Prior planning and official agreements with organizations are, therefore, necessary and crucial for these journalists. The freelancers also need to be very flexible so that they can accommodate abrupt calls or areas.

The role of News Agencies

Also known as, wire services, News Agencies are large organizations that provide text stories, video footages, sounds and still photos to smaller firms in the industry. The Globe and Mail is one such agency also called ‘wholesalers’ within the media industry (Patterson, 2011). They hire freelancers around the world to work alongside their vast number of employees situated all over the world. According to Patterson, these large companies also buy content from public journalists.

The News agencies concentrate to provide content to both newsprint and broadcast news firms at a cost. These subscribers pay an annual fee to access wire services for all available medium. These News agencies, concentrate their efforts on every possible are of the world to ensure their relevance and effectiveness in their role as the large ‘wholesale’ news providers. They employ staff in all parts of the world to maintain their reliability in providing information to their subscribers.

Wire services provide a wide variety of information apart from environmental issues and globalization. The staff gathering the information does not get constrained by time deadlines like other smaller firms. The stories are continuous as long as it is popular. There, is therefore, reliable information available and consistently streaming all day, every week.

Broadcast news

Broadcast news is the most active of all the methods of dissemination. It entails disseminating news through electronic media such as Television, radio and satellites. Websites, social media and blogs also amount to broadcast news. It provides the viewers with the largest amount of news ranging from breaking news, to up-to date news owing to the fact that it is instantly and consistently up-dated throughout day.

Broadcast journalists focus on up-to-date information through text, video, photos as well as sound especially on Television and the Internet. They are able to instantly up-date the viewers regularly and quickly allowing the audience to monitor changes in a developing story. The nature of broadcast journalism not only demands more attention than newsprint but also requires more personnel around various areas of the globe (or subscribe to news agencies) to maximize its efficiency as it attracts a large audience.

The broadcasting process is more hectic than newsprint in, for instance, the importance of storing news as a story keeps developing. The stored news is the basis of the developing story and, therefore, crucial to the news despite a fast development and changes in the story. Journalists need to keep referring to the original news feed.

The hectic nature of broadcast news leads to the reliance on subscriptions to news agencies and freelancers to provide unique stories in detail. Thanks to the advancement in technology, it is possible to send (and respond to) information from anywhere in the world instantly at high speeds via the Internet (Friedland and Kim, 2009). Friedland and Kim note that the information is also high quality and detailed. The advancement in technology has led to the rapid growth of the broadcast media in the dissemination process as a large audience depends on the media for all round news throughout the day.

The role of Newsprint

Newsprint journalism focuses on hardcopy (Physical medium) material such as newspapers and magazines. Traditionally, newspapers provide information (in text and pictures) to readers on daily bases (for newspapers) and monthly or weekly basis for magazines (Friedland and Kim, 2009). Both newspapers and magazines utilize the services of the same actors, writers, photographers on a regular and consistent basis. The magazine, however, with a longer deadline that newspaper is more flexible and gives in-depth analyses and study in events of the recent past.

Newsprint depends on three major sources for information. They include; the company’s permanent staff (such as reporters and editors) responsible for gathering and relaying the information to the pubic on daily bases, short-term freelancers and from subscriptions to News agencies. Freelancers are useful especially when the company workforce is unable to handle the assignment due to other tasks or accountability issues. Complex issues that the firms avoid include sponsors’ negative activities such as destroying forests to create factories. News obtained from subscriptions to large new agencies provides the audience with a wide range of information from around the globe.


Both independent and mainstream media rely on income generated through advertisements (among other sources of income). Through airing commercials and advertisements for companies, these journalism firms earn through payment of airtime. This is the main source of income for all media houses across the globe despite their sizes.


Friedland, L., & Kim, N. (2009). Citizen Journalism. In Encyclopedia of Journalism. (pp. 298-303). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: 10.4135/9781412972048.n75

Patterson, Chris (2011). The International Television News Agencies. New York, NY: Peter Lang

Polumbaum, J. (2009). Freelance writers and stringers. In Encyclopedia of Journalism. (pp. 645-649). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: 10.4135/9781412972048.n166

Reuters (2012). Frequently Asked Questions: How Does Reuters Get the News? Reuters. Retrieved December 7, 2012, from,,d.d2s