The national broadcaster RTÉ has confirmed that it have not issued any editorial guidelines to their journalists on how to cover climate change.
The broadcaster acknowledged that it does not have any guidelines on how the pressing issue should be covered when replying to an Access to Information on the Environment (AIE) request from Right to Know.
“I think RTÉ has a problem with climate change. A study shows in 2014 that their coverage was low and sporadic,” commented David Robbins, the co-proposer of the MSc in Climate Change: Policy, Media and Society masters in DCU.
“I don’t think it’s adequate. I think climate change is a topic that needs specific guidelines for coverage like the BBC has,” he continued.
In the UK, the BBC recently outlined its editorial policy on climate change in a detailed four page brief to its staff and invited them to sign up for a short training course on how to report on climate change.
RTÉ previously had a correspondent, Paul Cunningham, who regularly reported on climate change. His work includes reporting and blogging on the melting of glaciers in Greenland in October 2006 and he also covered the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2009.
His job was later given to George Lee who resigned after two months to become an agricultural correspondent. Since then, RTÉ cannot find anyone to fill this position.
“We know the basics of what’s happening to the planet. What we need to work out now is how to respond. It’s a social problem, a political problem and it’s a media problem,” said Robbins.
When asked about how important he thinks climate change coverage in the media is, Robbins stated that it’s “very important because it informs people how climate change happens and the latest impacts and the more people see something covered the more important they think it is.”
The Irish broadcast media could be doing more to report on climate issues, according to a report released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year.
It revealed that only three per cent of stories on broadcast media were devoted to climate change or sustainability issues during this “peak time for climate change news.”
“I think it’s important to report stories on climate change so that the people of Ireland become more aware of how critical the situation is and so demand change at government level,” said Katie Archer, chairperson Sustainable Living society.
“Reporting should include ways in which we can live more sustainable lives individually, as this can vastly reduce our carbon footprint as a nation,” she added.
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