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Partisan Differences in the Relationship Between Newspaper Coverage and Concern Over Global Warming

February 2016

Xiaoquan Zhao, Justin Rolfe-Redding, John E. Kotcher


This article uses data compiled from the 2006 General Social Survey and newspaper coverage of climate change during the same time period to analyze how news coverage influences public opinion. The authors found a pattern between how newspapers report climate change studies and how they form a political narrative to further a certain agenda. Certain newspapers have been found to pursue directional goals rather than accuracy goals to cater to a certain audience. The effects of this can be seen in the correlation between how climate change is covered and the increasing polarization between Democrats and Republicans.

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Policy Implications

The wider implications of newspapers pushing directional goals rather than accuracy goals are great. Rather than presenting the facts as they are, news sources have begun to push a certain narrative and manipulate data to further their argument. This manipulation of facts and studies is meant to be politically self-serving. If these news sources continue to purse directional goals we can expect to see increased political polarization due to the “echo chamber” effect. Increased polarization will make it harder for consensus to be found among the public, elected officials, and policymakers.

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