Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sunrise L.A. Youth, a hub of the national Sunrise Movement, marched and protested outside CNN's Los Angeles offices Thursday to demand the outlet "Cover the Crisis" of climate change more thoroughly. (Photo: Sunrise L.A. Youth/Twitter)

As Advocates Demand Media 'Cover the Crisis,' Poll Shows Voters Want Comprehensive Reporting on Climate Crisis

"To give voters the information they need to make political decisions in an increasingly chaotic world, the media must cover the climate crisis with the accuracy and urgency it deserves."

Lisa Newcomb

As wildfires continue to rage across the western United States and hurricanes barrel towards the East Coast, a new report out Thursday says voters want the media to do a better job at covering the climate crisis and connecting the dots between extreme weather events and climate change.

"The media has a responsibility to inform viewers of the connections between climate change and the increasingly unstable world around them," wrote Dr. Genevieve Gunther, Danielle Deiseroth, and Marcela Mulholland in a summary of the research conducted by Data for Progress and End Climate Silence. "It's not just climate activists and policy wonks that want to see this kind of coverage; our polling shows that a broad-base of voters do too."

While plenty of coverage of extreme weather events such as hurricanes exists, what does not is the connection to the climate crisis in the same reporting, the authors wrote. For example, ABC, CBS, and NBC aired a combined 50 segments on Hurricane Laura, yet not one connected the storm to climate change

"Media coverage is critical in determining how the public perceives climate change," they continued. "To give voters the information they need to make political decisions in an increasingly chaotic world, the media must cover the climate crisis with the accuracy and urgency it deserves."

According to the report, a Data for Progress poll found that more than seven in 10 Americans (72%) say that if there is a connection between an extreme weather event and climate change, they want to hear about it in the news. This includes 85% of Democrats, 59% of independents, and 62% of Republicans surveyed. Additionally, poll results showed 75% of Americans think it's important for news coverage of extreme weather to explain its connections to climate change.

"The science and reality couldn't be clearer—climate-fueled planetary emergency is the context in which all issues now exist," the report's authors wrote. "Journalists would be wise to frame their reporting with this in mind. They can feel confident that it is not only the right thing to do, but also what voters want."

The poll results came as climate activists from the Sunrise Movement protested outside CNN's Los Angeles offices to demand they "Cover the Crisis" of climate change. 

"We're here to hold the journalists at CNN to a higher standard and demand that they address the climate crisis with the urgency that is necessary to ensure a livable future for young people," Claire Donahue, a 17-year-old activist, said according to a statement from Sunrise L.A. Youth. "We've seen the course of history changed when journalists have the courage to call out injustice which is why we are demanding that CNN take bold, transformative action to address the climate crisis."

Sunrise Movement tweeted about the Data for Progress study on Thursday and called for moderators of presidential debates to press candidates on the issue.

During a CNN town hall Thursday night, Anderson Cooper pressed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on fracking—a practice linked to methane spikes in the earth's atmosphere which the former vice president has said he will not ban.

"You said you won't ban fracking but that you wanted to gradually move away from it, ultimately," Cooper said to Biden. "It sounds like, to some, you are trying to have it both ways. Politically, it's understandable why you might say that, but if fracking contributes to climate change and climate change is an existential threat, why should it, fracking, continue at all?"

Biden responded that fracking "has to continue because we need a transition."

"We're going to get to net-zero emissions by 2050, and we'll get to net-zero power emissions by 2035," the candidate said. "But there is no rationale to eliminate, right now, fracking."

On Monday, during a speech about the wildfires on the West Coast, Biden called climate-change denier President Donald Trump a "climate arsonist."

In an op-ed last week in The Boston Globe, End Climate Silence director Gunther wrote that because Republican lawmakers have attacked existing climate science, broadcast news outlets may fear retribution if they cover extreme weather in the context of the crisis. 

"The first job of a free press is not to be intimidated by governmental threats meant to suppress the truths discovered by science—or any other truths, for that matter," she wrote. "And it's not to be manipulated into silence by special interests when news consumers want to understand the links between the disasters they fear and the climate change that's fueling them."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Despite Housing Crisis, Mississippi May Return Up to Millions in Federal Rent Aid to DC

"For them to suggest people like me aren't working? It's a slap in the face," said one woman affected by the end of the pandemic assistance program. "It's very insulting and degrading."

Brett Wilkins ·


80% of US Voters Across Party Lines Support Expanding Social Security

"With Republicans threatening to cut benefits—and worse, eliminate the program entirely—Dems need to make clear they're fighting to protect and expand benefits."

Jessica Corbett ·


Rich Nations Again Accused of Vaccine Hoarding as UK OKs Moderna Omicron Booster

"While countries like the U.K. buy updated vaccines for their fourth doses, people in low- and middle-income countries are fighting today's variants with yesterday's vaccines."

Brett Wilkins ·


With Trumpian Claims of Cheating, Starbucks Demands Halt to Union Elections

"Unfortunately, it's now in vogue for the losers of some elections nationwide to attempt to reverse elections by any means they think are necessary," said Starbucks Workers United.

Jake Johnson ·


Richest Country on Earth to One of Its Poorest: We're Keeping the Money We Stole From You

A foreign affairs columnist called the move by the Biden administration a "shortsighted, morally unconscionable, and potentially calamitous decision for a country on the cusp of universal poverty."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo