Australian Media and Reporting of the Carbon Price Debate

By Stephan Lewandowsky
Professor, School of Experimental Psychology and Cabot Institute, University of Bristol
Posted on 1 December 2011
Filed under Media

Professor Wendy Bacon and a team of researchers have published a report on the coverage of climate change in the Australian media.

The research is based on a comprehensive review of 3971 media articles which were published in ten Australian newspapers on the topic of climate change policy, during the period February 2011 and July 2011. 

Key Findings of the research are at the front of the report. They include:

  • Overall coverage: Negative coverage of the government’s carbon pricing proposal outweighed positive coverage by 73% to 27%. Negative coverage across News Ltd newspapers far outweighed positive coverage by 82% to 18%.
  • Headlines were less balanced than the actual content of articles, with neutral articles more likely to be headlined negative (41%) than positive (19%).
  • Language: 51% of articles used only the term “carbon tax” to describe the policy, whilst 11% used only the term “carbon price”. This pattern was more obvious in several News Ltd publications (e.g. The Courier Mail was 70% to 8% on this measure). “Carbon tax” was generally the preferred term for opponents of the policy, whereas proponents preferred the term “carbon price”.
  • Sources: Business sources received more coverage than all civil society sources together, including unions, NGOs, think tanks, activists, members of the public, religious spokespeople, scientists and academics. Fossil fuel lobby and other businesses opposed to the policy received very strong representation, whereas clean energy and other businesses in support of the policy received low coverage.
  • Editorial: 46% of editorials were negative, compared to 23% positive. 31% were neutral.

For more details, there is an article on The Conversation, which includes a notable reply from News Ltd. For scholars of self-awareness (or lack thereof), the reply is particularly worth reading.

Bookmark and Share


Comments 1 to 15:

  1. The reply by Greg Baxter has to be seen to be believed. I'd argue he's perfectly self-aware, he just doesn't care - and will point to his organisation's 'success' as validation of his point of view.
  2. Stephan Lewandowsky at 16:30 PM on 1 December, 2011
    @1: That is an on-going mystery. Do they know what they are doing? I am not sure.

    News folks certainly don't know that their protestations are meaningless in light of the evidence: They fundamentally do not understand that actions are measurable evidence that outweighs whatever self-perception they may hold about their own motives.

    As astounding as that may appear, I think they are genuine in their ignorance in this regard.
  3. Stephan, I'll Devil's Advocate again and suggest that News Ltd would argue their protestations are 'meaningless' as they've got the numbers to show they are driving the debate. You may say actions are measurable evidence but as far as they are concerned, it's the delivery of that message not the content that the populace care about.

    As I'm sure you're aware, this has been a fundamental underpinning of the 'war' between conservative and progressive media for decades and unfortunately (from my POV anyway) it's one that conservative media seems to be winning.

    *Facts* only count for people already predisposed to accept the premise they are important, so when an audience is programmed to respond to delivery over content their validation is a matter of spin as opposed to reason.
  4. Stephan Lewandowsky at 18:29 PM on 1 December, 2011
    I agree that facts typically do not matter to those who are ideologically driven (e.g.

    This isn't entirely a progressive-v-conservative issue, though; there are progressives who are ideologically blinkered as well. But because conservatives are far more vocal in the media and tend to be vastly over-represented in influential circles, their "fact disability" is more visible and more damaging to society overall.
  5. This is highly informatics, crisp and clear. I think that everything has been described in systematic manner so that reader could get maximum information and learn many things.
    dj und hochzeit
  6. japan.comp234 at 18:05 PM on 7 October, 2015
    Thanks for the blog loaded with so many information. Stopping by your blog helped me to get what I was looking for.
    film production house
  7. japan.comp234 at 16:34 PM on 8 October, 2015
    Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting? I'm pleased I discovered it though, ill be checking back soon to find out what additional posts you include.
    websites to gain twitter followers
    free youtube subscribers
  8. I love this blog!! The flash up the top is awesome!!
    how to get likes on facebook page
    youtube viewer bot
  9. japan.comp234 at 19:50 PM on 12 October, 2015
    Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting? I'm pleased I discovered it though, ill be checking back soon to find out what additional posts you include.
    Social Kickstart
  10. This is my first time visit here. From the tons of comments on your articles,I guess I am not only one having all the enjoyment right here!
  11. Impressive web site, Distinguished feedback that I can tackle. Im moving forward and may apply to my current job as a pet sitter, which is very enjoyable, but I need to additional expand. Regards.

    SociSpot Review
  12. This is really a nice and informative, containing all information and also has a great impact on the new technology. Thanks for sharing it
  13. I know your expertise on this. I must say we should have an online discussion on this. Writing only comments will close the discussion straight away! And will restrict the benefits from this information.
    what do internet marketing companies do
  14. Much obliged to you for setting aside an ideal opportunity to distribute this data extremely valuable! health news
  15. Your online journal gave us important data to work with. Each and every tips of your post are great. You're the best to share. Continue blogging.. health tips
Comments Policy

Post a Comment

You need to be logged in to post a comment. Login via the left margin or register a new account.