The interplay of global warming framing in news media coverage in 1988-2009



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This study examined the framing of global warming in the national news media. It investigated the framing of global warming as a competitive process that entails sources, frames and sub-frames advanced in the national newspaper arena to either advocate or counter the notion of global warming as well as policy-making efforts. A content analysis was conducted, covering global warming (climate change) stories in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today during the 1988-2009 period. The time series cross-correlation function (CCF) was used as the main statistical analysis to examine the questions that sought to explain the patterns and directions of relationships involving sources, frames, and competing (advocate and skeptic) sub-frames in global warming coverage. In discussing the results, a path diagram was used to map the relationships between sources and relationships that involve sources and sub-frames at the same time. Descriptive statistics were also employed to show data characteristics. The results support the literature, which suggests that sources largely shape the framing of global warming in the news media and that this framing should be seen as a competitive or interplay process. Challenging the much-referenced anecdotal suggestion in the literature that politicians and officials had long edged out scientists as the major sources, the results included findings that scientists were the main leading source of global warming debate over more than the past two decades. Scientific uncertainty was not found to be the norm in national newspaper coverage anymore. The interplay of framing that this study has been able to show have implications for future research, and may offer practical value for those involved in the global warming debate.



Media and global warming, Media and climate change, Mass media, Mass communication