The process of climate change has become a relevant topic in the global agenda. In Spain, as in other countries, there exists a “National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change”, which points towards information and communication as important social intruments to obtain efficient results. Nevertheless, previous studies suggest that, in Spain, there is a deficit of environmental information, and that its quality and efficiency are not always optimal.

This paper presents some results of a project, which is being carried out by a research group of the University of Navarra (Spain), University Miguel Hernández (Spain) and Instituto Internacional de Ciéncias Sociais (Brasil) (*). It focuses on the quantity and quality of information on CC in the Spanish newspapers and television, with a broad sample of stories between 2005 and 2011, in both media.

We have analized these stories from the specific point of view of the interaction between journalistic norms and values, with the processes of “translation” of scientific knowledge, which are part of the production of news. Among these norms, we have studied news values (criteria for the selection of events), the use of balance and controversy (and its connection with the portrayal of scientific consensus), as well as framing and sources.

Results indicate that a certain interpretation of some journalistic norms and values can contribute to a low quality coverage of CC, in which this topic is still presented as a controversy, in spite of the solid existing scientific consensus about the existence and origin of this process. In addition, the norm of balance is used as a legitimization tool to present conflicting points of view, not only related to opinions but to facts and scientific certainties. However, the use of balance is subject to the editorial line of each medium.

(*) This project is sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (CS02010-15269).

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Interaction between science communication and journalistic values
A study of the coverage of climate change in the spanish media

Bienvenido León   University of Navarra

Miguel Ángel Jimeno   University of Navarra

The process of climate change has become a relevant topic in the global agenda. In Spain, as in other countries, there exists a “National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change”, which points towards information and communication as important social intruments to obtain efficient results. Nevertheless, previous studies suggest that, in Spain, there is a deficit of environmental information, and that its quality and efficiency are not always optimal.

This paper presents some results of a project, which is being carried out by a research group of the University of Navarra (Spain), University Miguel Hernández (Spain) and Instituto Internacional de Ciéncias Sociais (Brasil) (*). It focuses on the quantity and quality of information on CC in the Spanish newspapers and television, with a broad sample of stories between 2005 and 2011, in both media.

We have analized these stories from the specific point of view of the interaction between journalistic norms and values, with the processes of “translation” of scientific knowledge, which are part of the production of news. Among these norms, we have studied news values (criteria for the selection of events), the use of balance and controversy (and its connection with the portrayal of scientific consensus), as well as framing and sources.

Results indicate that a certain interpretation of some journalistic norms and values can contribute to a low quality coverage of CC, in which this topic is still presented as a controversy, in spite of the solid existing scientific consensus about the existence and origin of this process. In addition, the norm of balance is used as a legitimization tool to present conflicting points of view, not only related to opinions but to facts and scientific certainties. However, the use of balance is subject to the editorial line of each medium.

(*) This project is sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (CS02010-15269).

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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