Essay by Eric Worrall
Professor at UT . School of Journalism Renita Coleman is the lead author of a study that suggests journalists looking to appeal to climate skeptics should replace the term “Global Warming” with “Weather.”
Want to reach skeptics? Researchers suggest leaving the term ‘climate change’ out of some news
Via Denise-Marie Ordway Thursday, June 23, 2022
If newsrooms want climate science skeptics to read and share news about climate change, researcher Renita Coleman recommends they do this: Take the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ out of their coverage.
Coleman, a professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, said: “Research shows that it’s the words that trigger skeptics. “This is what we discovered that will make them stop reading and immediately become hostile, [believing] ‘Oh, that story is biased or that media organization is biased.’ “
Coleman is the lead author of a new sheet of paper research strategies to help journalists reach people who don’t believe in science. She and her colleagues conducted an experiment that showed that small changes in the way journalists cover climate change have the potential to make dramatic changes in the way skeptics engage. news.
In testing, after reading a news story that incorporated the three changes below, skeptics said they would likely learn and share more news about climate change. They also said they will likely take steps to help mitigate its damage.
Summary of the study;
Reaching science skeptics: How climate change adaptation frameworks lead to positive responses through persuasive knowledge and perceived behavioral control
This study extends framework theory by identifying two causal mechanisms and one stochastic condition so that a new type of framework is used for problems where people dispute scientific claims. This new “adaptive framework” focuses on adapting to the effects of climate change without expressing deep conviction by discussing the causes. One experiment showed that this framework works by reducing persuasive knowledge and increasing cognitive behavioral control, leading to science skeptics more likely to have an intention to act, to interact with news and agree with the point of the story. This effect is moderated by scientific skepticism, with adaptive frameworks performing significantly better on the very people the media doesn’t reach. We contribute to the theory with an understanding of how a framework that removes references to deep beliefs is more effective than existing frameworks on conflict, allocation of responsibility, and possibly others.
Read more (Paywalled): https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/00936502221084925
Of course, omitting trigger words like “climate change” and “global warming” could make climate alerters less engaged. So maybe journalists need to publish two different versions of the same story? Or could they aim to appeal to different audiences on different weeks?
Here’s a radical thought – perhaps journalists could cut down on trigger words and other attempts to manipulate their audience’s emotions and try just presenting the facts.