Report: Widespread Silence, Underreporting of Climate Change as Record-Breaking Hurricanes Batter the U.S.

Sept. 8, 2017

Report: Widespread Silence, Underreporting of Climate Change as Record-Breaking Hurricanes Batter the U.S.

Many Major Outlets Fail to Connect the Dots Between Hurricanes and Climate Change, New Public Citizen Report Shows

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With Hurricane Irma bearing down on Florida and the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency arguing that now is the wrong time to discuss climate change, major news outlets are falling far short of giving climate change the coverage it deserves, a new analysis by Public Citizen finds.

The study, “A Storm of Silence: Media Coverage of Climate Change and Hurricane Harvey,” examined Hurricane Harvey coverage by 18 sources – 10 major newspapers, three weekly magazines and national programming from ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox – from Aug. 25 to Sept. 1. It found that two major networks, ABC and NBC, did not mention climate change in the context of Harvey at all. One major newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, scarcely covered the issue in its news reporting and gave a platform to skeptics when it did.

“It’s beyond irresponsible for major media outlets like ABC and NBC to be silent on climate change when record-breaking, climate-influenced storms are battering our coasts,” said David J. Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program.

In addition, the study found 72 percent of the pieces on Harvey that mentioned climate change were produced by just four of the 18 sources – CNN, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle and The New York Times.

“We’ve heard a lot of talk about climate denial in the media. But underreporting and outright silence are a major problems too,” said Arkush. “Most Americans want, and deserve, more and better information about the story of the century – the threat of climate change and what we can do about it.”

Read the full report here.

###