Published by Antoinette Siu on 23 Apr 2012 at 01:43 pm
The Project for Improved Environmental Coverage found that most Americans want better coverage of environmental news.
For Immediate Release
Nearly 80% of Americans Believe News Coverage of the Environment Should Be Improved
Asheville, N.C.– 79% of Americans believe news coverage of the environment should be improved according to a new national poll commissioned by the Project for Improved Environmental Coverage and conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation over the weekend of April 14-15.
Taken together, the results of the poll confirm that regardless of age, race, income or region of the country, an overwhelming majority of Americans believe news coverage of our environment should be improved.
According to the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), the news media plays a critical role in the creation of a more environmentally literate and responsible society. As mainstream news organizations choose to improve their coverage in this arena, it serves to de-politicize the environmental issues that we all face and supports better understanding and the uptake of real solutions. Despite the clear social value, however, the quantity of environmental coverage isn’t improving. In fact, news coverage of the environment fell from 2% in 2010 to 1% in 2011. Meanwhile sports and lifestyle coverage each garnered double that of the environment, and celebrity coverage remained equal to environmental coverage according to the 2011 News Coverage Index from the Pew Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.
Somewhat surprisingly, age makes no difference as it relates to citizen attitudes on this topic. In fact, 79% of 18-24 year olds and 79% of those over 65 felt coverage should be improved. Regionally there was very little variation with 77% of those polled in the Northeast, Midwest, and West feeling news coverage should be improved and slightly more in the South (83%). Level of education also had little impact on Americans’ views with 83% of those who have a high school diploma or less and 76% of college graduates believing coverage should be improved. By race, 88% of African-Americans polled shared this view versus 79% of Hispanics and 77% of whites suggesting that concern for the environment may actually be slightly higher for non-whites than whites though all share a high level of concern.
“This poll tells us that there is a shared common interest in being better informed about environmental issues,” said Tyson Miller, project director. “News organizations act as filters for what we perceive as important and improving the quality of environmental coverage not only has significant social value but it’s also something news consumers want.”
The poll also asked Americans about how they felt news coverage of the environment could be improved and several choices were provided. Over half (51%) felt all of the following would help improve coverage:
- Making the relationship between the environment and other issues more clear
- Focusing more on solutions
- Making environmental stories more appealing to a larger cross section of society
- Making environmental news more visible by including in top headlines
Each of these four strategies is included in the national Vision for Improved Environmental Coverage, which was launched on February 28th of this year. A number of environmental journalism professionals helped craft the vision including representatives from: TIME Magazine, Society of Environmental Journalists, Michigan Radio, Huffington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Solutions Journal, Grist Magazine and the Knight Center of Environmental Journalism.
About the Project for Improved Environmental Coverage (PIEC):
The PIEC is dedicated to working in a collaborative manner to support improved environmental coverage across the full spectrum of news platforms. In the coming year, the PIEC will be working to engage news organizations and build support for the Vision for Improved Environmental Coverage. The project is an initiative of SEE Innovation; a national non-profit organization whose mission is to build awareness, capacity, and structures for social and environmental transformation. SEE Innovation’s additional programs include Dream of a Nation and the Green Press Initiative.
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