4.1 Quantity of Coverage
Of 8,612 items mentioning climate change, 44% or nearly half were in The Australian. The Daily Telegraph had half as many with 22% of all items. The Courier Mail had 17% and the Herald Sun 16%. The higher numbers in The Australian, which is the only broadsheet and national paper in our study, is consistent with two earlier studies (Bacon, 2011; Bacon, 2013). Readers of the tabloid outlets receive less information of any quality about climate change.
The April 2019 to March 2020 period included the Australian Federal election, protests by the global School Strike 4 Climate and Extinction Rebellion movements, plus the 2019-20 bushfire season. As the graph below shows, the coverage followed the flow and was concentrated around these events.
The concentration of the coverage around key events is not surprising as it has been observed by previous researchers (Jacobs, 1998; Nash & Bacon, 2003). However, it means that other significant information is not covered because journalism resources including staff time and space are not available. The relative visibility and invisibility of significant climate science and climate change issues will be analysed and discussed in Section 6.2 on climate science and environment.
Quantity of coverage by word count
Another measure of quantity of coverage is the amount of space allocated to an issue. However, there is a difficulty in comparing space allocated to different types of coverage when online and print media are combined into an overall sample. In order to consider this issue, we chose a sample of all items in the month of September 2019 and compared the number of words relating to climate change in each publication allocated to each type of item. Results are in the following chart.