On Monday the 5th of December MediaClimate held a seminar titled “Media meets climate: A problem or a solution for social movements” at the Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard campus.
MediaClimate is an international research group that looks at media coverage of the annual UN climate summits. The facilitator of the seminar Andreas Ytterstad suggested that the seminar be open to discussion from the attending Civil Society delegates, rather than following a lecture approach. The aim of the seminar was to explore the relationships between COP17, the media and the different angles of the stories.
The following issues were raised and discussed:
- Media can be a barrier for climate change projects and their activists. Media criticism is a popular topic; there is always someone commenting on the media and its role in society, as Ytterstad noted. Misrepresentation was identified as a primary cause for concern. At the same time climate issues need the media, because without the media the climate issues would not be able to reach the public.
- Corporate Media and its dominance were also highlighted. The corporate monopolised media not only has the authority to prioritise specific topics and points of view, but also the authority to exclude others. The corporate media can also take comments out of context.
- COP and Climate change terms are often difficult to understand, and is simply regarded as jargon by the individuals who are not immersed in the climate change events and projects. The media should be encourage to ensure that the climate change events and issues are published so that everyone can understand the issues.
- The main industries and/or causes of climate change often occupies approximately 10% of the media coverage. Therefore, the root causes aren’t always visible and a solution for climate change is difficult to find.
- Capitalism often forces media to “dirty their hands”. For example, the Guardian, a UK newspaper, supports climate justice issues, but was forced to publish oil company adverts in order to remain financially stable.
- Celebrities and politicians often receive more coverage, as journalists flock to where they are. This means that other issues, individuals and events often get marginalized. This is especially evident during the COP17 events. Journalists are all at the ICC, covering the events and commentary of the politicians and international agents. The Events and commentary at the Centre for Civil Society are thus excluded and ignored.
By Mariclair Smit