A polar bear laying down.

Articles explore how media portray, frame, visualise and narrativise climate change

NEWS | 26 April 2022

The connection between media and climate change has been a popular and current research topic during the past few years. Nordicom Review has published several articles on the matter, most recently an article discussing two Swedish TV series about climate change and the power imbalance between “experts” and the general public. 

In the newly published article “How is he entitled to say this? Constructing the identities of experts, ordinary people, and presenters in Swedish television series on climate change”,  the authors look at two Swedish TV series about climate change and show how these series allocate radically different roles to experts and the general public in expressing their respective views on this issue. The power to define the problem and articulate solutions - including those that require changing behaviour and habits - rests with scientists, who appear authoritative and credible. By contrast, private individuals, presented as the "ordinary people", are shown as passive, influenceable, unknowledgeable, inconsistent, with opinions too diverse to be taken seriously. 

“Our study highlights a series of problematic assumptions about who – in what role and under what conditions – appears in media productions devoted to climate change. The failure to include the public in such discussions on equal terms is concerning, because it creates a problematic distinction between the mitigation of the climate crisis and citizen participation”, says Kirill Filimonov, media researcher at Uppsala University and one of the authors behind the study. 

More articles on the media and climate change 

Nordicom Review has previously published several articles addressing media and climate change. In a 2020 special issue on Nordic Noir, two of the articles addressed how climate change is addressed in different TV series. The first article examined the Norwegian climate fiction television series Okkupert [Occupied], focusing on the ways in which it reveals the complicity of Nordic subjects in an ecological dystopia. 

The second special issue article looked at the television series Jordskott and sought to lend visibility to the issue of ecological crisis. The article concludes that by asking audiences to ponder the relationship of human morality and environmental change, Jordskott encourages the imagination of ways to sustain human evolution in a more-than-human world.

Two articles on the topic were also published in 2019. The first one analyses the discursive roles of two prominent themes of the habitual media climate change imagery: “the smokestack” and “renewable energy”. 

The second article explores the potential and challenges of using hyperlinks as data through a study of polarisation in English-language blogs about climate change. 

Further reading 

In 2021, Nordic Journal of Media Studies presented an entire issue of articles addressing the intersection of media and the climate crisis from many angles and with a diversity of data, methods and conceptual frameworks.

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MIA JONSSON LINDELL

NEWS