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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

While newspapers are teaming up to double down on their climate change coverage, broadcasters are focusing on covering the byproducts of climate change — natural disasters and extreme weather.

Why it matters: Climate change tends to be a ratings killer for television, because it can be abstract and complicated to explain in short, visual bites. But as the economic and political debate around the topic increases, media experts will be looking at the ways television outlets cover the issue, as television is still the most common place for Americans to get their news.

Be smart: Covering climate change isn't just about whether an outlet covers the topic, but also how.

  • Earlier this year, The Guardian changed its style guide to convey with more urgency the environmental crises unfolding, prompting other media outlets, like the CBC, Canada’s national public broadcaster and The Los Angeles Times, to review their own standards.

Between the lines: Media, which is struggling as a business, is often incentivized to cover what consumers want, not necessarily what's most important. (And Americans can be hypocritical about news they want to consumer versus news they actually do consume.)

  • An Axios study earlier this year found that while climate change was the second-highest ranked issue they wished to read more about, it was ranked fifth across a range of topics about things they actually do read.

Yes, but: Now that climate change is a super-charged political issue, the media is starting to pay more attention.

  • "The media naturally gravitates to controversy, and Trump has made climate change more controversial than ever," writes Axios' energy columnist Amy Harder.
  • Climate change has become major policy priority for many of the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, bringing the issue more mainstream.
  • 60 prominent news outlets in radio, TV, and print this week committed to running one week of focused climate coverage around the U.N.s climate summit in September.

The bottom line: Climate change still lags in on-air time, but is starting to get more attention in print. Expect to see even more coverage ahead of the 2020 campaign.

Read more about the impacts of climate change we're tracking:

Go deeper

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

2 hours ago - World

Australian PM pledges $700M for climate change-threatened Great Barrier reef

A green sea turtle is flourishing among the corals at Lady Elliot island in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Friday a AU$1 billion ($703 million) investment plan for the Great Barrier Reef.

Why it matters: The nine-year plan for projects including water quality improvement, reef conservation and supporting some 64,000 tourism jobs comes months ahead of this year's federal election. It has been criticized by scientists and environmental groups for failing to tackle climate change.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.