Document AB – Final Supervisor Meeting


During our final supervised meeting today we discussed the ways in which we could improve on our presentation and prepare for questions that may arise during the Q&A session that follows.

We identified the gaps in our presentation as:

  • how do all the topics we will be discussing (geological representations, mass media, film and social media) answer the research question we have formulated?
  • why are the case studies chosen relevant and how are they all useful in answering the research question?
  • reflecting on the research process, how do are the topics relevant to each other?

These questions that Conor raised during our supervision were helpful in aiding during our group meeting in directing us to ensure our presentation is cohesive and answers any possible questions that may arise during the Q&A session.

We were also advised to ensure our presentation is concise due to the strict time limit. Approximately 3 minutes per person exclusive of the introduction and conclusion.

During our group meeting, we went on to look into formulating a hypothesis and conclusion that would be able to answer the question in relation to each of our subtopics.

We formulated the hypothesis;

The challenges posed by the structural frameworks of different forms of media and the strive of each to appeal to specific audiences shows that media documentation struggles to fully represent the extent and complexity of the geological documentation of climate change.

We agreed that the hypothesis would be relevant to all our subtopics as well as incorporating media theory, as it is our main focus in this presentation. We then began to discuss how we would all coherently discuss the ways media theory is relevant to our subtopics; ensuring that the question is answered by all subtopics and we do not stray from the question, theory and hypothesis.

Individually we have all done relevant research on how media theory affects our topic thus we began to discuss how each of our subtopics is correlational. This ensured us to create a presentation with clear pointers of collaborative effort rather than a presentation which combined 4 separate subtopics.

We agreed to continue working towards the deadline on Friday to finish the final draft of the presentation, allowing us the weekend to practice and summarise our points for our presentation on Monday.

Group AB – Individual research


The media has historically had this need to be proactively “unbiased” when covering news stories surrounding policies due to the economic nature of these news corporations. News of policies, legislation and laws that are discussed that could affect the balance of capital control in countries would need to be presented in mixed review to ensure the news network is not showing biased to only one type of knowledge.

Journalists are restricted to producing knowledge that is in line with the science but is also approved by the board to editors and directors in a company. This restricts the knowledge to be biased and unfair especially if large shareholders in the news company have their own self-interest that contests the science of climate change. 

I found this to be prevalent in the documentation of climate change in news networks and identify it as being a gap in knowledge that should be acknowledged by people when they conduct their own research surrounding climate change. In the past year there has been a number of articles and think pieces published focusing on how conversations of climate change have been manipulated and controlled by climate sceptics. This is particularly true when looking at the news media’s sensationalising climate change by having both a climate scientist and a sceptic debate the issue.


Media Presentations of Climate Change – Boykoff and Smith 2010

Climate change and journalistic norms: A case-study of US mass-media coverage – Boykoff 2007

Contesting science by appealing to its norms: readers discuss climate science in the Daily Mail – Jaspal et al. 2013

Research Findings: 

  • knowledge presented by news outlets are biased in relation to the self-interests of shareholders, company directors and editors 
    • journalists are restricted by these macro factors when discussing climate change 
    • the monopolised nature of news outlets are problematic in creating knowledge for the average citizen as it pushes people’s self-interest onto other’s
  • journalists are reliant on the sensationalised nature of news to reach an audience – they argue that climate change is often too dry and scientific to be interesting for the average audience
    • they counter this by having debates of climate change where they pin a climate sceptic alongside a climate scientist – this problematises the knowledge produced because it is essentially countering scientific knowledge with social sciences and little empirical evidence 
    • climate change debates hinder legislation and policies that would counter the effects of anthropogenic climate change as it creates this belief that anthropogenic climate change is a debatable topic 
    • by doing this, journalists politicise the issue of climate change and force people that are aligned to a political sphere to justify their beliefs and push the agenda of their specific political identity 
  • people tend to watch news that aligns itself with their own beliefs and confirm their preconceptions 
    • while this is no fault of news outlets, when news outlets that adamantly discern the reality of climate change it emphasises the idea that “there is no right or wrong in science” – detrimental in the development of climate change policies 
    • it also creates a sphere of news that is specifically dedicated to deciphering climate change and furthering the belief that anthropogenic climate change is a debatable topic 
    • there should be a bias in the documentation of scientific findings especially in mass media as it is an important source of knowledge 

I feel like these issues are best to be discussed in the presentation as it is definitive to the topic and question that we have reached. It clearly presents the obvious gaps in knowledge surrounding climate change. Furthermore, from an interdisciplinary context we can clearly dissect it from a political and geographic perspective – whereby these documentations of climate change have and will influence future legislation and policies – as well as an english perspective – the specific jargon used by these news and media networks can severely influence layman’s understanding of anthropogenic climate change.

Document AB – group meeting and progress update


This group meeting we focused on creating a research question to aid us in research and how we will present the findings in the presentation.

We began the meeting by discussing what we had researched beforehand to gain a semblance of what we individually interpreted from past meetings.

I discussed in detail the topics and articles that I had research beforehand as well as topics from a lecture that I thought was relevant to the topic. The lecture was entitled “Who speaks for climate change?” and discussed the disparities in knowledge surrounding climate change presented by the media, specifically looking at journalists and news reporters.

As we have previously discussed the subtopics that we intend to discuss in the presentation, we began refining it further as to not stray from our topic or over complicate the topic we intend to present.

Collectively we decided that we would focus on 3 subheadings to include in the presentation
– mass media
– social media
– the earth’s physical documentation

We thought these three subtopics would be relevant in our discussion as it focuses on three varying ways of acquiring knowledge surrounding climate change that affects peoples understanding of climate change and specifically anthropogenic climate change.

From these topics, we then began discussing the tentative presentation question that we would discuss. Collaboratively we decided that;
What has changed in the documentation of Anthropogenic Climate Change in recent years that have influenced the growth in conversations surrounding Climate Change?

We still intend to focus on the idea of media theory as we feel the quote “the medium is the message” is very relevant to our presentation. The mediums that we intend to focus on are physical representations of the Earth, mass media and social media. The growth in conversations surrounding climate change will aid us in focusing on the topic but we will also be looking at historical documentation of climate change, specifically news surrounding climate change in the 1990s and early 2000s and how that has affected people’s knowledge of climate change. Lastly, we will focus on social media representations of climate change and how the growth of new independent media have both benefitted and hindered conversations surrounding climate change.

In preparation for our group meeting alongside our supervisor we will be looking at each topic with the reserach question in mind, identifying any gaps in knowledge that could be beneficial in developing the argument that the knowledge produced by media sources directly impact people’s interaction with climate change.

We have divided the research amongst ourselves;

  • Sebastian will focus on Earth’s physical documentation and how that may impact people’s knowledge 
  • Kistina and Ares will focus on mass media documentations of climate change – specifically focusing on establishment media sources and how they have 
  • Greta and Kayoko will focus on social media documentations 

Document AB – individual research


Individual Research

Doing research I looked specifically at the recent climate report that was released by the US government to dissect the ways in which the current administration has defined their stance on climate change. Specifically dissecting the rhetoric used and how that may affect layman readers that are not inherently involved in climate science research.

I found that the language used is overly complicated and focuses mainly on the economic impacts of climate change. There was also little focus on anthropogenic climate change and how to establish policies that would directly act on anthropogenic climate change.

The most striking sentence that I find to be relevant to our topic was,

“Some aspects of our economy may see slight near term improvements in a modestly warmer world”

Rhetoric like these has been prevalent in climate science findings since the creation of the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change). It acknowledges that climate change and global warming is occurring however, it could be beneficial for society citing regions with harsh weather would benefit from global warming because of the modestly warming weather.

An article by Moser 2010 researched the complicated nature of discussing climate change particularly focusing on the heavily scientific nature of these findings and lack of dramatisation in graphs and reserach produced.

I then went on to read an article by Boykoff 2007, a renowned climate scientist that focuses heavily on the effects of media representation of climate change on people’s perception of the severity of the issue.

Boykoff 2007 findings:

  • the paper explored the way climate change is presented in the media and how that affects people outside of the climate science community to interpret climate change, in particular, anthropogenic climate change 
  • micro and macro factors – constraints faced by journalists the news and understandings of climate science (Carvalho)
  • micro factors; audience expectation, editorial policy
  • macro factors; decrease in advertising revenue 
  • issues with media-science-policy interface and anthropogenic climate change
    • need for key concentrated events to garner increase in media attention – eg. 1997 Kyoto Protocol
    • media depictions encouraged discussions surrounding climate change to evoke a response from the audience – debates on climate change between a climate scientist and a sceptic would gather more attention from viewers
    • coverage of consensus taken through the framework of ‘contention’
    • idea that “experts don’t have all the facts” – distrust in experts creating growing uncertainty in the reliability of existence of anthropogenic climate change

constraints with study: 

  • written in 2007 so the data is not as updated to recent meteorological events that are arguably caused by anthropogenic climate change
  • focused on the US and the UK 
    • to what extent are industrialising economies concerned with climate change as much as they would be in rapid economic development? 
    • but should there be a duality in issues of climate change; would it be too constrictive to be focused on both sustainability and economic development?
  • privileged access and power have amplified uncertainty and disempowered climate science – macro factors discussed previously; eg. if shareholders in a media outlet have personal intentions that do not coincide with climate science they are likely to exert their power to ensure their own interest
  • mass media’s use of contestation in climate science (ie debates) have amplified the uncertainty through coverage of climate counterclaims regarding anthropogenic climate change (Dunwoody 1996)

Interestingly, I found a perspective piece on the Washington Post titled,

How the fossil fuel industry got the media to think climate change is debatable.

  • Article by the Washington Post that outlines the ways in which the fossil fuel industry exploited the media in their favour. 
  • Here they highlight the ways in which PR offices in these fossil fuel companies in the end of the 20th century had manipulated the news to ensure that their rhetoric of “pro-fossil fuels” could be expanded

Fox Guest Claims Fossil Fuels Helps the Environment

  • the rhetoric presented in the new arguments against renewable energy is increasingly racist in the US 
    • “they are no longer burning dung in their huts anymore… because you have infrastructure; with the help of carbon-based fuels in the developing world” 
    • the use of the narrative of “the other” as a way to mobilise people against the need for reducing carbon emissions 
    • “the other” an effective narrative to use because it compare you to people who you deem inferior to you and thus developing your inferiority complex 
  • arguably this has been used in other imperial-led rhetoric to further their cause 
    • for example, early documents in favour of the opium trade argued that because Indians ate little to no meat, opium was beneficial in helping them in labour productivity unlike the Europeans that had a high dairy and meat diet, and favourably “temperate” climate who are more productive without opium. 
  • here I would argue that one of the most jarring and influential traits of the US media is their ability to demonise “the other” in favour of their own agenda
  • research media theory examples and cite this

Group AB – 29.1.2019 (Sebastian, Kayoko, Ares, Greta and Kistina)

First meeting as a group of the new combined group A & B. We began the meeting discussing the wars and conflicts that we had researched in preparation for the meeting and informing the other members of our group about what was discussed in the previous group meetings:

  • previous group A – social movements and the documentation in mass media
  • previous group B – conflicts & wars and the way they are documented

We realised that our ideas were not strikingly different and could be combined as we were all looking at representations by the media as a form of documentation.

Case studies discussed:

  • End of World War II and Hiroshima – discussions of the conflict in Japan and the US; particularly on how the governments and subsequently the media have interpreted it
  • Vietnam War and insurgency of social movements – how the war was perceived by the public
  • the first Gulf War – development of new Islamist movements
  • Tom Sachs “Swiss Passport Office” and the immigrant crisis – notions of “legality” of citizenship as a result of opposing geopolitical relations

Forming a Research Question:

  • looking at the documentation of conflict – ones listed above
  • Media Theory
    • “the medium is the message” Marshall McLuhan
    • the idea that in the transmission of information the technology in which it is transmitted is more important than the content
    • technology and the way that information is spread affects how it is received and people’s perception
  • relating to the above, looking at 3 conflicts: Hiroshima WWII, Vietnam War and the first Gulf War
    • looking at the differing media documentation of it as affected by technological advancements; from newspapers and radio to 24-hour news and social media
    • how they can they influence hypotheses of conflict by media representations and documentation of conflict

Research question brainstorming:

  • “How does the state’s participation in conflict impact it’s documentation?”
  • “How has the documentation of these conflicts in the US differ from documentation in conflicting state’s?”
    • this idea that “when America goes to war, the media does too” – the starting point of looking at the way documentation of war and conflict by media affect perceptions of war

We have not yet come up with a research question but are thinking of ways to narrow down these ideas as a starting point in formulating a research question.

We plan to do more research on Media Theory to help us in narrowing down research questions and from there making a research plan to help us structure our presentation.