Beyond false balance: How interpretive journalism shapes media coverage of climate change

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • Michael Brüggemann - , University of Hamburg (Author)
  • Sven Engesser - , University of Zurich (Author)


This study explores two pre-eminent features of transnational media coverage of climate change: The framing of climate change as a harmful, human-induced risk and the way that reporting handles contrarian voices in the climate debate. The analysis shows how journalists, and their interpretations and professional norms, shape media debates about climate change. The study links an analysis of media content to a survey of the authors of the respective articles. It covers leading print and online news outlets in Germany, India, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Switzerland. It finds that climate journalism has moved beyond the norm of balance towards a more interpretive pattern of journalism. Quoting contrarian voices still is part of transnational climate coverage, but these quotes are contextualized with a dismissal of climate change denial. Yet niches of denial persist in certain contexts, and much journalistic attention is focused on the narrative of ‘warners vs. deniers,’ and overlooks the more relevant debates about climate change.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-67
Number of pages10
Journal Global environmental change : human and policy dimensions
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


Research priority areas of TU Dresden

Sustainable Development Goals


  • Balance, Climate change, Denial, Journalism, Journalistic norms, Skeptics