4.1 Research design, methodology

In order to assess media and journalistic practices in relation to the reporting of climate change policy in Australia, we conducted a content analysis of 10 Australian newspapers between February and July 2011.

We have supplemented the content analysis with examples and small case studies. The newspapers chosen were: The Australian, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, The Advertiser, The Courier Mail, The Northern Territory News (NT News), The Mercury and The West Australian. (Note: Mastheads that have a Sunday edition were merged. For example, The Age figures include The Sunday Age figures.

Figure 4.1.1: Shows Audit Bureau of Circulation (2011) figures for circulation and Roy Morgan Research (2011) figures for readership, ownership and format of selected newspapers.
Newspaper Location Owner 2011 circulation 2011 readership Format and target audience
The Australian National News Ltd 130307 257000 Only general national newspaper, higher income readers
The Sydney Morning Herald Sydney, NSW Fairfax 200194 754000 Broadsheet, higher income readers
The Daily Telegraph Sydney, NSW News Ltd 354893 949000 Tabloid, lower income readers
The Age Melbourne, Vic. Fairfax 197200+ 685000 Broadsheet, higher income readers
Herald Sun Melbourne, Vic. News Ltd 488600 1333000 Tabloid, lower income readers
The Advertiser Adelaide, SA News Ltd 173957 430000 Tabloid, only metropolitan daily, Adelaide
The Courier Mail Brisbane, QLD News Ltd 199284 591000 Tabloid, only metropolitan daily, Brisbane
The Mercury Hobart, Tas. News Ltd 43513 103000 Tabloid, only metropolitan, Hobart
The Northern Territory Darwin, NT News Ltd 19985 44000 Tabloid, only metropolitan daily, Darwin
The West Australian Perth, WA Seven West Media 195007 547000 Feeds into Channel 7 Yahoo! website, only metropolitan daily, Perth

Download data as .csv or view on GitHub


The Dow Jones Factiva database was used to retrieve all articles relevant to climate change policy and the debates around them. Researchers then removed those items that only included incidental mentions of climate change policy. For example, articles that included references to the ‘Minister for Climate Change’ were not included and if ‘climate change’ merely appeared in a list of items in a story on another topic, the article was excluded.

Pieces in which climate change policy was not the main focus of the article but which nevertheless included significant content about climate change were included. Articles were coded into spreadsheets according to:

For articles in the last three months of the study, we also included the dominant theme of the article, where one was apparent.

Social science and media students from the University of Technology Sydney and the University of Sydney were selected as researchers to be part of the study. They were trained in the coding according to selected criteria. All raw data was entered into spreadsheets and checks were conducted to ensure accuracy in coding.

It should be noted that all figures in this report have been rounded to a whole figure.

In all there were 3971 articles that dealt with climate change policy. Of these articles all but 181 articles focused on the carbon emissions reduction policy.