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  • Climate change coverage on the up in Brazil

[RIO DE JANEIRO] Brazilian newspapers are covering climate change more frequently, according to a study published this month (15 January).

The study — carried out by the News Agency for Children's Rights and supported by the Climate Change Communication Programme at the British Embassy in Brazil — evaluated a sample of 997 articles, comprising news articles, editorials, features, columns and interviews from 50 publications published between 1 July 2005 and 30 June 2007.

The authors found that one article was published on the theme every two days in the last quarter of 2006 onwards, while one article was published every five days at the beginning of the time period.

According to the study, the environmental perspective is the main angle from which the media cover the issue (35.8 per cent), followed by looking at the economic impact (19.7 per cent). Only two per cent of texts highlight the specific impacts of climate change on low-income populations.

Newspapers also prioritise reporting the impacts of climate change over understanding what is causing it and ways to address the problem.

Around half of the stories that mention a specific location deal with the international scenario alone or its relation to the Brazilian context; the rest focus on climate change in Brazil.

In general, journalists consulted a variety of sources. The most popular were public authorities, experts, technical and academic institutions, private companies and foreign governments. But only 9.5 per cent of articles presented contrasting opinions, and 28.5 per cent didn't mention the sources of information they used.

The authors of the study write that the results should contribute directly to advances in the strategy used by the media to cover climate change.

"They are, at the same time, relevant for expanding the dialogue between different sources of information and media outlets on this issue," they add.

Claudio Angelo Monteiro, science editor of one of Brazil's national newspapers, Folha de São Paulo, highlights a limitation of the study.

He told SciDev.Net that analysing large national newspapers in the same 'bag' as small local newspapers means that it is hard to see specific trends in national newspapers such as Folha de São Paulo and O Estado de São Paulo, which have impact on the political agenda.