Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Newspaper Biased Against Climate Change

By Ian Lowe

An analysis of The Australian’s coverage of climate change reveals overwhelming bias towards denialists.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

In a recent Quarterly Essay analysing Australia’s national daily newspaper, The Australian, Robert Manne devoted 17 of his 115 pages to the paper’s coverage of climate change. He had conducted a detailed study of all the news articles published in a 7-year period up to April 2011.

Astonishingly, he found only 180 articles that were favourable to the idea of taking action to slow down climate change. These were overwhelmed by 700 that were unfavourable: a ratio of about 4:1 opposing action.

The imbalance in opinion pieces was even worse, with dozens of columns from writers with no scientific expertise whatsoever attacking the science of climate change. Employees of the business lobby group the Institute of Public Affairs were regularly published, along with other unqualified pundits like extreme neo-liberal economists, former politicians and all-purpose political observers.

Analysing the scientists whose opinions were published, Manne found “dozens of articles” from the small number who don’t accept the science and very few from researchers who have published in the climate science journals.

He summarised the coverage: “In the real world, scientists accepting the climate consensus view outnumber denialists by more than 99 to one. In the Alice in Wonderland world of [The] Australian, their contributions were outnumbered 10 to one.” The tone of...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Ian Lowe is Emeritus Professor of science, technology and society at Griffith University.