Media and discourse

Media, and all climate communicators, must be alert to the competing ideologies, values and systems of power that affect which messages are communicated and how that message is interpreted by different communities. This is particularly relevant in relation to the language of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ tipping points, which can imply a universality of effect that is insensitive to the diverse experiences and responsibilities of different communities. Knowledge does not automatically lead to enlightened action (Norgaard, 2011). Certain facts and emphases – for example, emphasising the risks of climate breakdown rather than the co-benefits of climate action – may serve to further entrench dismissive perceptions of climate change (Bain et al., 2012). There is therefore a need to shift away from linear, ‘information-deficit’ models of communication towards values-inclusive, reflective and creative dialogues (Gaertner and Dovidio, 2014; Stirling, 2010). Communication strategies should be tailored to and co-produced with the communities they are seeking to engage (Wang et al., 2020). Media and communication organisations must not see themselves as neutral information transmitters, but as actors in a complex, nonlinear system that is entangled with issues of knowledge and power.

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