Legitimizing climate policy: The "risk construct" of global climate change in the German mass media

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


For at least a decade, global climate change has been a very important topic in
German mass media coverage. Theories of media effects such as “cultivation” and “agenda setting” lead us to expect that climate change reporting will have an
impact on the risk perception of the media audience. Furthermore, because of
the medialization of politics, media reporting of climate change may be assumed
to have political effects. Based on a content analysis of about 1200 media stories, the “risk construct” of global climate change in the German mass media is
analysed and its potential functions for the ways in which society copes with
climate change are discussed. The empirical analysis finds that the media
construct of climate change closely mirrors the position of the scientific
community as documented in the IPCC reports. The article discusses likely
effects of climate change coverage on individual behaviour and on policy. It
concludes that the key effect is the legitimization of climate politics as a political
ZeitschriftInternational Journal of Sustainability Communication
Seiten (von - bis)14-36
Anzahl der Seiten23
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 06.2008