September 28, 2019

Tracking media attention to climate change and global warming, by MeCCO

Posted by Laura Guertin

The Global Climate Strike has passed, the UN Youth Climate Summit has concluded, and Climate Week NYC is underway (Sept. 23-29, 2019). Several events took place and resources were newly/recently released that you may have missed. I’ll be calling attention to some of these in a week of blog posts dedicated to climate conversations (see #climateconversations2019).


Sometimes, I find interesting resources that I think I’ll want to focus on in a future blog post, so I start a rought draft and insert those sources. The tweet at the beginning and end of this page have been sitting in a draft post since 2015:

This journal article found that between 2006 and 2011, “The Wall Street Journal was least likely to discuss the impacts of and threat posed by climate change and most likely to include negative efficacy information and use conflict and negative economic framing when discussing actions to address climate change. … Also, across all newspapers, climate impacts and actions to address climate change were more likely to be discussed separately than together in the same article.”

Back in 2015, my plan was to write a blog post titled “Alert students as they search for climate change resources.” With all of the climate coverage this past week in the media, it seems appropriate to resurrect this idea but update the resources and add a new source to consider. My Covering Climate Now blog post is a great place to learn about the efforts by the media during “Climate Week” (September 2019) to increase their coverage of climate change/the climate crisis/the climate emergency. But I also came across a website that tracks the coverage of global warming and climate change in the press. I’d like to introduce you to MeCCO – Media and Climate Change Observatory.

MeCCO is a multi-university collaboration that monitors 96 sources across newspapers, radio and TV, in 43 countries in seven different regions around the world. The data is acquired by accessing archives through the Lexis Nexis, Proquest and Factiva databases. This group publishes monthly summaries (going back to January 2017) and a 2018 Year End Retrospective.

The MeCCO reports and graphics are a fascinating summary and journey through the changes of what is covered in the media about global warming and climate change, and by who. I encourage you to visit their site at the links above and explore.

This figure tracks newspaper coverage of climate change or global warming in 5 US newspapers (Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, and Los Angeles Times). Updated through August 2019. Downloaded from:

In the graph above, you can see the impact of the establishment of The New York Times Climate Desk in 2017 (see article A Sea Change for Climate Coverage).

This figure tracks newspaper coverage of climate change or global warming in eighty-three sources across forty-two countries in seven different regions around the world. Updated through August 2019. Downloaded from:


One can find word clouds that have been compiled over time – another interesting visualization to explore.



I will be curious to see the outcomes of the September 2019 analyses, with the Global Climate Strike, UN Youth Climate Summit, etc. – and what will happen after September, moving towards the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in April 2020, and then beyond. Seems like some interesting data for students to dig in to…


So that second tweet I mentioned that has been sitting in this post since 2015?

This PLoS ONE article found that “the global warming page was edited on average (geometric mean ±SD) 1.9±2.7 times resulting in 110.9±10.3 words changed per day…. The high rate of change observed in these pages makes it difficult for experts to monitor accuracy and contribute time-consuming corrections, to the possible detriment of scientific accuracy. As our society turns to Wikipedia as a primary source of scientific information, it is vital we read it critically and with the understanding that the content is dynamic and vulnerable to vandalism and other shenanigans.” I didn’t dig deep into finding a newer source on this statistic, but one just has to look at the View History edits to the global warming Wikipedia page to see there is still much activity on this page on a daily basis.


Maybe we should, as my original blog post was titled, “alert students as they search for climate change resources.” The coverage of global warming and climate change in world media is moving in a promising direction, and bringing students back (or for the first time) to newspapers, radio and TV can expand their sources and information literacy.