Voici l’abstact de la communication pour IAMCR 2010:

« Communicating on Climate Negotiations. A Content Analysis of French Traditional and Participative Online News Media during the Copenhagen Summit » (Omar Rosas, Mathieu Simonson)

Today, traditional news media are not the only communication systems capable of shaping the public perception of climate change. As a result of the latest technical improvements in Content Management Systems (CMS), new online participatory platforms have emerged and started exerting growing influence on how audiences perceive and appraise climate-related events such as international negotiations on climate change. In France, the emergence of these new platforms, in 2006, has given citizens and journalists new opportunities to engage in a collective understanding of these issues. The present paper is based on a content analysis of articles published in two online newspapers (Le Monde, Le Figaro) and two participatory platforms
(Rue89, AgoraVox) during the Copenhagen Conference, between December 7th-18th 2009. Its aim is to identify and examine different modes of online communication on climate negotiations. For this purpose, it focuses on the following variables: (1) the importance of strategic decision making; (2) the significance of social justice and ethics; (3) the influence of political leaders on the outcomes of the conference; (4) the influence of UN organizational norms and (5) the importance of knowledge and uncertainty about climate change.

Traditional media have focused on the first four variables, whereas the latter one has principally been developed by participatory media. In order to understand this difference, it should be noted that, in the past, it was traditional media that gave a great importance to the fifth variable. They intended to balance competing views in order to represent uncertainty, which led them to give a disproportionate significance to marginal skeptic views (“balance as bias”). Now, the situation is inverted. Traditional media tend to focus on the « politics » of climate change and give the public a consensual representation of the global warming, thereby neglecting its complexity and ignoring marginal views. At the very same time, emerging participatory platforms tend to reintegrate heterodox viewpoints in the matter, presumably in defence of the freedom of speech. Yet, these platforms are facing similar problems to those that traditional news media had to cope with earlier: either (1) they choose to neglect the complexity of the matter, which impoverishes the information and creates an impression of certainty among the audience; or (2) they choose to integrate uncertainty into their papers, which takes a huge amount of time and effort without being sure about a predictable result, or still (3) they choose to put competing viewpoints in the balance, which produces the impression of an « open debate » among the readers, even if the points that are represented are not central controversies. We will finally discuss the consequences of these choices on the confidence of the public opinion in both journalists and climate scientists.

IAMCR Conference 2010, Braga, PORTUGAL
Communication and Society Research Centre, University of Minho

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