Developments in the Framing of Climate Change as a Public Health Issue in US Newspapers

Weathers, Melinda R.; Kendall, Brenden E.
Environmental Communication

News media are major channels for the transmission of information to the public and deliver news about the latest developments regarding health issues such as climate change. How the media frame such information may enhance public understanding and enable appropriate responses by individuals and communities. This study follows up on previous research examining media portrayals of climate change in US newspapers from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2008. Here, we content analyze 270 news stories on climate change as a public health issue from five US newspapers between 1 January 2011 and 31 December 2012. Findings indicate that the total number of articles about climate change declined while emphasis on the public health dimension of climate change increased. The types of generic news frames (i.e., dramatic/substantive) most frequently used did not considerably change across the two time periods, however. To explain this, we discuss ways in which people may assess and spark change in news framing of public issues to better reach and influence a range of audiences.