Graduation Year

2020

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Environmental Analysis

Second Department

Media Studies

Reader 1

Dr. Ruti Talmor

Reader 2

Dr. Susan Phillips

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2019 Dylan V Macy

Abstract

In many instances, television news is the primary outlet through which people gain knowledge on climate change. Both the perceived threat of climate change and American news media have grown politically divided since the 1980s. I make the argument that American news media influences the partisan divide over climate change. In addition to the political landscape of news media, focus on political events and figures in climate coverage further contributes to a partisan divide. Supporting these claims are research displaying how climate change news is processed in a partisan manner and a selection of three case study periods in which climate change coverage spiked among MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News in the last twenty years (2000-2019). I collected news footage from all three case studies using the online database archive.org. Using this footage, an accompanying documentary short was produced that focused on the Paris Climate Accord Withdrawal in 2017. Presented in the documentary and the three case study periods, Fox News held a consistently hands-off and dismissive tone towards climate change, while MSNBC and CNN implemented climate science into coverage while advocating for collective climate action. I report that media is selected and processed via partisanship among viewers; these case studies illustrate the ways in which news media drives the political divide on climate change. I conclude by offering some future ways climate coverage can be more unifying, such as more emphasis on the economic benefits of “a green economy” in news coverage.

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