Newspaper Framing of Climate Change and Sustainability Issues in India

Newspaper Framing of Climate Change and Sustainability Issues in India

T Nirmala (Anna University, Chennai, India) and I. Arul Aram (Anna University, Chennai, India)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJEP.2018010102
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Abstract

This article describes how climate change influences nature and human life and it is the basis for social and economic development. News reporting on climate change must address the challenges in the deeper social and economic dimensions of sustainable development. The news coverage of climate change and sustainability issues helps people to better understand the concepts and perspectives of environment. This article aims to examine how dominant newspapers in Tamil Nadu have framed climate change and sustainability issues. This is done by analyzing climate change articles (N = 120) in two mainstream newspapers – The Hindu in English and the Daily Thanthi in Tamil. Climate change communication in regional newspapers and local news stories may increase the public's interest and knowledge level regarding climate change and sustainability issues.
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Introduction

Sustainable development is a goal for the present and future generations to achieve equal rights and opportunities that help lead a good human life (Brundtland, 1987). It is also a goal to raise the standard of living of the poor. The socio-economic-environmental dimensions must be in balance to attain sustainable development. Sustainability is understood as continued growth; and establishing sustainability in policy circles is the outcome of enormous communicative effort by key decision making and policy planning fora such as the World Summit on Sustainable Development and the Conference of Parties (COPs) on climate change (Miller & Dinan, 2015). Sustainable development is the idea of progress, and progress is one of the most powerful notions in the modern world. Sustainable development involves economic growth, environmental conservation, social justice and not just for the moment, but in permanence (Dryzek, 2005).

Climate change and sustainable development are interrelated. Climate change influences nature and human life and it is the basis for social and economic development (IPCC, 2007). Climate change is included as one of the goals in the new agenda for sustainable development to ‘take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts’ (Sustainable Development Goals, 2015). It is a serious global environmental issue and it affects millions of people worldwide. According to the fifth assessment report by the IPCC (2014), “Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts on people and ecosystems.” Rise in temperature, changing precipitation patterns, rising sea-level and melting glaciers are some of the consequences of climate change. In developing countries, poor and marginalized groups are worst affected by the impacts of climate change such as drought, floods, extreme weather events, shortage of food and drinking water. India is one of the countries in Asia most susceptible to climate change. Combating climate change to achieve sustainable development is a challenge for society. News reporting on climate change must address the challenges posed in the deeper social and economic dimensions of sustainable development. Reporting needs a multi-faceted approach, in making people understand the complexity of climate change. Although facts, figures, and rational analysis are necessary, they are insufficient in persuading individuals and communities to adopt more climate friendly lifestyles, practices and use of technologies. Senior journalist G. Krishnan (2009) said, “reporters are often reluctant to admit that they do not understand the subject; instead, they merely reproduce the contents of the press releases or briefings.”

Media coverage of climate change and sustainability issues help the reader better understand the concepts and perspectives of environment. The U.N. COP21 on climate change held in December 2015 in Paris, France, had wide media coverage – be it on newspaper, radio, television or the internet. Newspapers have played an important role in disseminating climate change and sustainability issues discussed in the conference. The terms such as ‘climate change’, ‘global warming’ and ‘El Nino’ are gaining popularity among the public. This study aims to analyze the framing of climate change and sustainability issues in dominant newspapers in Tamil Nadu. The objectives of the study are:

  • To examine how climate change and sustainability issues are represented in The Hindu and the Daily Thanthi newspapers

  • To identify most/least prominent frames in these two newspapers

  • To find out the differences in the coverage of issues between these two newspapers

  • To analyze the ways the issues are represented visually.

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