Inspiration to act or just another scary vision?
A study of images accompanying news coverage of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report in Norway and the UK
Keywords:climate change communication , images, news values, UK and Norwegian traditional media
Images are powerful communicators. They evoke feelings, raise awareness of important issues and sometimes spur people to act. A critical societal issue that may benefit from all these kinds of engagement is climate change. This paper presents a study of images accompanying news items on the current state of our climate as expressed in the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report. The items were culled from five Norwegian and five UK news sources, and the images were analysed in terms of topic and news value. Unsurprisingly, climate impact topics were common in both countries, with bush and forest fires dominating. Thus, the traditional news values of Negativity and Impact were the most important ones drawn on. More surprisingly, the Norwegian material comprised a high number of images of politicians, representing the news value of Eliteness. This topic was absent in the UK material. Pictures that may point to climate solutions, e.g. new energy sources or lifestyle matters, were only sparsely represented. Thus, the images may ensure people’s engagement with climate change through disaster scenarios, but few seem to have the potential to motivate action.
Bednarek, M., and H. Caple. 2012. ‘Value added’: Language, image and news values. Discourse, Context & Media 1:103-113.
Bednarek, M. and H. Caple. 2017. The discourse of news values. New York: Oxford University Press.
Dahl, T. 2017. Verbal and visual framing activity in climate change discourse: A multimodal analysis of media representations of the IPCC's 5th Assessment Report. In K. Fløttum, The role of language in the climate debate, ed. Kjersti Fløttum, 13-30. New York/London: Routledge.
Dahl, T., and K. Fløttum. 2017. Verbal−visual harmony or dissonance? A news values analysis of multimodal news texts on climate change. Discourse, Context & Media 20: 124-131.
Dahl, T., and K. Fløttum. 2019. Climate change as a corporate strategy issue: A discourse analysis of three climate reports from the energy sector. Corporate Communications: An International Journal 24 (3): 499-514.
Fløttum, K., ed. 2017. The role of language in the climate debate. New York/London: Routledge.
Fløttum, K., T. Dahl, and J. Scheurer. Forthcoming. ‘Trying (hard), but it’s difficult’: Youth voices on lifestyle matters in a climate perspective. In Routledge handbook of Language & Youth Culture, B. A. Svendsen and R. Jonsson (eds.), Chapter 8.
Fløttum, K., and T. Espeland. 2014. Norske klimanarrativer –hvor mange “fortellinger”? En lingvistisk og diskursiv analyse av to norske stortingsmeldinger. Sakprosa 6 (4). https://journals.uio.no/sakprosa/article/view/932/886
Hase, V., D. Mahl, M. Schäfer, and T. Keller. 2021. Climate change in news media across the globe: An automated analysis of issue attention and themes in climate change coverage in 10 countries (2006–2018). Global Environmental Change 70. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2021.102353
Hendrickx, J., and H. Sjøvaag. 2022. Operationalising news diversity: A comparison of Norway and Flanders. Norsk Medietidsskrift, March: 1-15. https://doi.org/10.18261/nmt.29.1.4
Ihlen, Ø. 2009. The oxymoron of ‘sustainable oil production’: the case of the Norwegian oil industry. Business Strategy and the Environment 18 (1): 53-63.
IPCC. 2021. Progress reports. Communication and Outreach Activities. Review of the IPCC Communications Strategy. 150320210305-INF. 12 - Review of communications strategy.pdf (ipcc.ch)
Lee, K., S. O’Neill, L. Blackwood, and J. Barnett. 2022. Perspectives of UK adolescents on the youth climate strikes. Nature Climate Change 12: 528-531.
Leiserowitz, A. 2006. Climate change risk perception and policy preferences: the role of affect, imagery, and values. Climatic Change 77: 45-72.
Lynn, J., and N. Peeva. 2021.Communications in the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report cycle. Climatic Change 169 (18), https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-021-03233-7
Machin, D. 2004. Building the world’s visual language: the increasing global importance of image banks in corporate media. Visual Communication 3 (3): 316-336.
O’Neill, S. 2020. More than meets the eye: a longitudinal analysis of climate change imagery in the print media. Climatic Change 16: 9-26.
O’Neill, S. 2022. Defining a visual metonym: A hauntological study of polar bear imagery in climate communication. Trans Inst Br Geogr. DOI: 10.1111/tran.12543
O’Neill, S., M. Boykoff, S. Niemeyer, and S. Day. 2013. On the use of imagery for climate change engagement. Global Environmental Change 23: 413-421.
O’Neill, S., S. Hayes, N. Strauss, M.-N. Doutreix, K. Steentjes, J. Ettinger, N. Westwood, and J. Painter. 2023. Visual portrayals of fun in the sun in European news outlets misrepresent heatwave risks. The Geographical Journal 189 (1): 90-103.
O’Neill, S., and N. Smith. 2014. Climate change and visual imagery. WIREs Clim Change 5: 73-87.
O’Neill, S. J., H. T. P. Williams, T. Kurz, B. Wiersma, and M. Boykoff. 2015. Dominant frames in legacy and social media coverage of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. Nature Climate Change 5: 380-385.
Painter, J. 2015. “Taking a bet on risk.” Commentary, Nature Climate Change 5, April: 286-288.
Reuters Institute. 2021. Digital News Report 2021. 10th edition. https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2021-06/Digital_News_Report_2021_FINAL.pdf
Smith, N. W., and H. Joffe. 2009. Climate change in the British press: the role of the visual. Journal of Risk Research 12 (5): 647-663.
Schäfer, M., A. Ivanova, and A. Schmidt. 2014. What drives media attention for climate change? Explaining issue attention in Australian, German and Indian print media from 1996 to 2010. The International Communication Gazette 76 (2): 152-176.
Schäfer, M., and J. Painter. 2021. Climate journalism in a changing media ecosystem: Assessing the production of climate change-related news around the world. WIREs Clim Change 12:e675
Tvinnereim, E., O. Lægreid, and K. Fløttum. 2020. Who cares about Norway’s energy transition? A survey experiment about citizen associations and petroleum. Energy Research & Social Science 62. DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2663
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 Trine Dahl
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.