Inesa Birbilaite

Inesa Birbilaite

  • University of Kaunas
Participant in 2009

Phd Projects


Studying media discourse on Climate Change

Climate change problems, in recent years, have emerged as one of the fundamental issues affecting personal habits and lifestyles of citizens as well as public policy agenda setting processes in many countries around the world. Increasing media coverage on climate change also demonstrates the significance of this issue. As a result, in the field of scientific research, climate change phenomenon is being discussed from different perspectives including the communicative. The field of communication studies emphasizes the importance of communication on climate change and usually discusses the subject in the broader framework of risk communication. The contemporary approach to risk communication on climate change goes beyond alerting or reassuring the public about potential environmental hazards (Gurabardhi, Gutteling and Kuttschreuter, 2004). Scientists emphasize that the involvement of social actors in the discourse helps to stimulate interest in environmental issues and increasing public knowledge, as well as involving them in ‘problem solving’ and policy making processes. “Effective risk communication obtains information from the public and acknowledges and respects the beliefs and opinions of the people for whom it is targeted” (Trettin and Musham, 2000). The purpose of this study is to look at how climate change problems are communicated in Lithuania. The research addresses the issue of climate change in the context of risk communication and analyses the climate change discourse in Lithuanian media. First the research will assess through content analysis how climate change issues are covered in media. An understanding of the issues, problems and solutions related to climate change, as well as input from actors (institutions and people) involved in the discourse will help to evaluate empirical data and to better understand the Lithuanian media’s climate change discourse. Secondly relationships between experts and journalists will be analysed to evaluate the influence of a range of actors (scientific experts and institutions, politicians and political institutions, NGOs and citizen action groups) on media content on climate change. The information, interpretations, demands, suggestions, criticism, metaphors and slogans of different social actors will be recognized, which will help to understand how media agenda is affected by politics, scientists and others (Bakir, 2006). Selected groups of main actors and journalists will be interviewed. “Journalistic coverage with actors or sources cited contributes to creating and changing individual understanding on climate change” (Heinrichs and Peters, 2006) so it is important to evaluate how individual understanding is being shaped by media. Thirdly, the issue of how consumers are responding to the media content will be examined. Interviewing randomly chosen media consumers will enable an exploration of the cognitive process of media consumers. Respondents will be asked to comment on articles, in order to record the cognitive reactions which the media content evoke.

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