The framing of climate change in three daily newspapers in the Western Cape Province of South Africa

Cramer, Carolyn Maire (2008-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Journalism))--University of Stellenbosch, 2008.


Scientists predict that the Western Cape region of South Africa is likely to be one of the regions most affected by climate change. Though the effects on the Cape Floral Kingdom are a huge concern in terms of biodiversity, the effects of climate change are predicted to be far broader than the natural environment. Agriculture, industry, the health sector, politics and the socio-economic sectors among others are all likely to be significantly impacted by climate change in the coming years. The underlying theoretical assumption of the study is that understanding how the climate question has been understood and framed is of vital importance for how the general public will be able to respond to lifestyle changes in aid of climate protection.This study examines the media coverage of climate change over the period of one year in the Western Cape media context, specifically the Cape Times, the Cape Argus and Die Burger. Using a quantitative framing analysis as the central methodology, the study focused on six core frames in analysing all articles relating to climate change. In addition, journalists at the respective newspapers were interviewed to complement the textual analysis. Finally, climate change scientists were interviewed in order to gain their perspectives of the reporting. The study found that the environmental frame was the dominant frame chosen. The political and scientific frames were the next two most prominent frames. It is argued that the dominance of these frames and the comparative lack of reports featuring the human impact frame is problematic as the environment, science and politics are all fairly abstract to the general public.

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