Climate change: “She’ll be right” in the sunburnt country

Just as television comedy series such as Kath & Kim contain culturally specific contextual elements (Turnbull 2008, p.112), international news is also constructed to appeal to local audience’s tastes and preferences (Lee-Wright 2012, p.2). This is referred to as news ‘domestication’ (Lee-Wright 2012, p.2) and involves the mediation of international discourse (Clausen 2004, p.27) according to the historical, cultural and political sensibilities of audiences (Belair-Gagnon 2011, p.188) which makes global news particular to each country (Clausen 2004, p.27).

While technological developments facilitate the global diffusion of information about events, increasing the awareness of social and political information across borders, the processes of domestication, and more specifically ‘particularisation’, leads to these events being framed differently across cultures (Clausen 2004, p.27), presenting a number of implications for the political and economic relations between countries (Clausen 2001 as cited in Clauson 2004, p.35).

This is evident in the highly polarised debate about climate change that continues in many countries around the world carbon-ads-in-australian-data(Clark P, 2014). In Australia, one third of articles in major newspapers do not accept the scientific consensus that human beings are contributing to climate change, with more than 60% of News Corp’s Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun coverage skeptical about human-induced climate change (Bacon 2013). United States cognitive scientific, Professor George Lakoff, argues that a ‘rhetorical’ framing is used, whereby policies are presented by the media and politicians as a threat to core values such as freedom, family, employment and the national interest, regardless of the evidence (ECOS, 2011). For example, the carbon tax implemented in order to mitigate climate change was presented in terms of its unfavorable affects on Australian consumers, including increasing the cost of living and housing. In this way, Australia’s position on climate change is framed by its political and economic perspectives (ECOS 2011).

This was clearly evident at the UN summit held last month, whereby Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop told members717955-climate-change that Australia intended to stick with its low target of a 5 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 (O’Malley 2014). This is due, in part, to the fact that Australia has already enjoyed the economic benefits of carbon emissions (O’Malley 2014), focusing on advancing its own short-term political interests (‘Australia is going backwards on climate change’ 2014). In addition, Australia has become conditioned to enduring extreme natural events such as droughts and bushfires, with the Aussie cultural outlook of “She’ll be right, mate” (Perera 2014) perhaps unknowingly influencing the media’s, and politicians’, stance on this debate.


There is also a riding tide of climate skepticism in the UK. 

On the other hand, non-Western countries such as India employ a ‘disaster’ framing in media coverage of climate media-headlines-mchange, linking it to themes of uncertainty and managing risk (Hope 2014). In this way, while there is a problem with climate skepticism in the Western world, India’s coverage presents climate change as a scientific reality, albeit framing it as a responsibility of ‘the North’ (Martyniak 2014). India’s media coverage also reflects a negative attitude towards the Kyoto Protocol, arguing that it would block India’s development (Shanahan 2009, p.149).

It is, therefore, evident that the media’s ideological constructions of climate change are a product of the geopolitical outlooks and short-term, national self-interests of different countries around the world which are serving to fragment necessary global responses (Boyce & Lewis 2009, p.9). At a more micro level, however, individual citizens also becoming apathetic (Bacon 2013), with the media, in an attempt to achieve the goal of objectivity and balance, giving the small number of scientists disputing climate change a level of media exposure disproportionate to those supporting it (ECOS 2011). This misleading reporting creates a false impression, rendering individuals ignorant about the veracity of global warming and, in turn, minimising the potential for urgent action in the form of a cooperative global community response (ECOS 2011).


Reference List:

‘Australia is going backwards on climate change’ 2014, Lateline, television program transcript, ABC, London, 8 July, accessed 3 October 2014, <>.

Bacon, W 2013, ‘Big Australian media reject climate science’, Conversation, 1 November, accessed 3 October 2014, <>.

Belair-Gagnon, V 2011, ‘International News Production and Globalisation’, Global Media Journal – Canadian Edition, vol.4, iss.1, p.187-194.

Boyce, T & Lewis, J 2009, ‘Series Editor’s Preface: Global Crises and the Media’ in Boyce, T & Lewis, J (eds), ‘Climate Change and the Media’, Peter Lang Publishing, New York, p.1-12.

Clark, P 2014, ‘Australia marked down for reversal of climate change law’, Financial Times, 27 February, accessed 3 October 2014, <>.

Clausen, L 2001, ‘The “Domestication” of International News: A Study of Japanese TV Production’, PhD Series, no. 21, Economics Faculty, Copenhagen Business School.

Clausen, L 2004, ‘Localising the Global: ‘Domestication’ Processes in International News Production’, Media Culture Society, vol.26, iss.1, p.25-26.

ECOS 2011, ‘Science, ‘Sceptics’ and Spin: Framing the climate change debate’, iss.156.

Hope, M 2014, ‘How TV news covered the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s three big reports, The Carbon Brief, weblog post, 23 September, accessed 3 October 2014, <>.

Lee-Wright, P 2012, ‘News Values: An Assessment of News Priorities Through a Comparative Analysis of Arab Spring’, JOMEC Journal, iss.1, p.1-20.

Martyniak, K 2014, ‘Mass media coverage of climate change – towards public engagement’, Climate Exchange, weblog post, 17 June, accessed 3 October 2014, <>.

O’Malley, N 2014, ‘Australia’s climate stance savaged at UN summit’, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 September, accessed 3 October 2014, <>.

Perera, S 2011, ‘She’ll be right, mate – is the Aussie attitude incompatible with science?’, Conversation, 7 July, accessed 3 October 2014, <>.

Shanahan, M 2009, ‘Time to Adapt: Media Coverage of Climate Change in Nonindustrialised Countries’ in Boyce, T & Lewis, J (eds), ‘Climate Change and the Media’, Peter Lang Publishing, New York, p.145-157.

Shimizu, Y 2013, ‘Climate Change and the City’, header image, Yuko Shimizu, accessed 3 October 2014, <>.

Turnbull, S 2008, ‘It’s Like They Threw a Panther in the Air and Caught It in Embroidery’: Television Comedy in Translation’, Metro Magazine: Media & Education Magazine, no.159, p.110-115.


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