Study: Pacific journalists rely on politicians, not scientists for climate stories

By Justin Fa’afia

A study conducted by ABC International Development, and Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub concluded that Pacific journalists overwhelmingly rely on politicians and government workers, rather than scientists, as sources for climate change stories.

The study, ‘Communication practices and media reporting on climate change: A Pacific scoping study’ released this week by ABC International focuses on the dissemination of climate change information to Pacific audiences via Pacific media. It covers Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

According to the Study, the findings were a result of 47 interviews with media practitioners and content analysis of over 300 news articles. Pacific Environment Weekly understands it was conducted by Australian academics and journalists.

Pacific climate crisis journalist and scholar Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson who conducted the first study on reporting on climate change in the Pacific commended the study but urged for better contextualizing of the issues.

“The finding on reliance of Pacific journalists on Government workers instead of Scientists suggest that they have a choice, as far as islands are concerned, often the only experts in some environment issues are indeed Government workers who are Scientists.”

She added: “It’s not like we have 20 scientists to pick and choose from or a range of NGOs, Think Tanks or Academics with the relevant background to comment or provide insight into an environmental story. Many times we have to rely on international experts to provide context, as such this particular finding needs context to better understand the challenge that the Pacific climate journalist faces.”

The Study also found that knowledge brokers and journalists agree on the importance of contextualizing climate change impacts (with a focus on key facts, resilience and empowerment) through narrative storytelling.

The Study also found that94% of climate change newspaper reporting occurred around political events which resulted in contrasting periods of very limited coverage of climate change and periods of extensive coverage of climate change.

Study findings source: https://www.abc.net.au/abc-international-development/communications-practices-and-media-reporting-on-climate-change/12767178

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