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Competing Crises? Media Coverage and Framing of Climate Change During the COVID-19 Pandemic

September 7, 2021

New research by CSSN Scholar Mark CJ Stoddart et al. finds that media coverage of climate change has slowed in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that new framing possibilities have opened up that link environmental and economic sustainability.


The COVID-19 pandemic emerged against the backdrop of the longer-term climate change crisis and increasing global awareness of the imperative for climate action, disrupting the post-Paris trajectory of climate policy and media coverage of climate change. We examine news media coverage from Canadian legacy newspapers and answer three questions. First, did the COVID-19 pandemic work as a critical event in its impacts on news media coverage of climate change, and if so, in what ways? Second, did media framing of climate change shift in response to this critical event, and if so, in what ways? Third, are there notable differences between national and subnational media frames? We find that COVID-19 is a critical event linked to a period of reduced media coverage of climate change. However, this critical event also opened new spaces for news framing that connects environmental and economic dimensions of sustainability.

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