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Silent Protest: U.S. Media Coverage of Demonstrations Surrounding U.N. Climate Talks Abroad

COP Protest Media Report

Public Citizen examined 15 media outlets covering COPs held between 2010 and 2016.  The analysis found that major U.S. media rarely cover some of the most significant international climate demonstrations or the solidarity actions that accompany them in the U.S.


This report examines mainstream coverage of demonstrations and other actions during the United Nations’ annual climate conferences from 2010 to 2016.

During the six-year period, among 15 major newspapers and outlets – The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the Denver Post, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the New York PostUSA Today, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Network and MSNBC – only a single news piece ran that was squarely devoted to a demonstration surrounding a COP. In all, just 30 pieces spent even one sentence on demonstrations or activism. Seven of the 15 outlets – the Boston Globe, the New York Post, USA Today, ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox News Network – did not report on demonstrations at all.

Media coverage that ignores popular voices distorts public perceptions, creating the impression that there is significantly less support for action than actually exists. When the media ignore major demonstrations in support of climate solutions, they put a thumb on the scale favoring inaction.