Reframing climate change communication in the Norwegian west coast media. What are the framing patterns in the “oil rich” west coast, how do they affect the readers, and what can we learn from the journalists
Climate change has been framed in terms of disaster, cost, uncertainty, and sacrifice for decades. Many researchers have argued that we have to talk about climate change in a different way. My aim in this thesis has been to look into how the media in the west coast of Norway framed climate change in the period between 01.06.15 – 01.06.16. There are relatively few thorough studies of the discussion of the climate shift in the media that have their basis in the oil-rich Norwegian west coast. My questions were: What are the main characteristics of the Norwegian west coast media coverage of climate shift? How does their coverage of climate problems differ from national or international framing? I identified the existing framing patterns in Bergens Tidende, Sysla and Energi og Klima, and found that there was an overwhelming focus on the green shift and technological solutions. In order to understand how the regional and specialist framing patterns influenced the public’s perceptions of climate change, I interviewed some of the readers of my chosen media. Just as the west coast media, my informants defined climate change as a crisis happening in other countries or affecting future generations. My informants repeated many of the arguments put forward by Bergens Tidende, Sysla and Energi og Klima. However, other aspects of their life such as their personal beliefs and workplace also influenced their perceptions of climate change. Another objective in my thesis was to explore ways to better frame climate change. I therefore interviewed journalists working in my chosen media. The journalists from Bergens Tidende and Sysla were concerned with journalistic norms such as being objective, while the journalists from Energi og Klima had an agenda they wished to convey, and actively worked on reframing the debate. Even though I conclude that the reframing of the climate change debate has started in the west coast media, their framing patterns are still very provincial. In the studied period, climate change was portrayed as a catastrophe happening outside Norway. The fact that Norway might be affected by international affairs, such as wars and migration, was not included in the discussion of climate change. Nor was there any visionary framing showing what a climate friendly future looks like. Instead, the existing framing patterns - focusing on technology and the green shift – did little to mobilize Norwegian readers to participate in the solutions to the climate crisis.