26 Jul 2019
By Nikki Wright
Kiwis want to be shown more solutions regarding climate danger and less doom and gloom. It’s true, and we have the numbers to prove it.
New Zealand’s popular online and print news company Stuff conducted a poll about media coverage of climate change in June.
15,000 responses were received – an impressive number, considering many polls published by Newshub, 1News and Reid Research base their results on just 1000 responses.
Why such a large-scale response?
“The scale of the response – about 15 times more than we'd dared hope for – speaks to the depth of feeling,” Stuff news editor Patrick Crewdson said.
The survey was part of the new Quick! Save the Planet project. I love that Stuff carried out the survey. After all, running a successful business and publishing environmentally-helpful words aren’t mutually exclusive – something Wright Communications knows well, as a leader in publishing sustainability reports.
Big question, though: Stuff’s survey had some very bipartisan responses to issues which should be clear and simple. So how can the truth have two sides?
At the end of Stuff’s announcement of the survey results, Crewdson gives this note on ‘balance’ – and notice that balance is in quotation marks.
“Some respondents used the survey to deny the scientific consensus that climate change is real and caused by human activity,” Crewdson said. “Many objected to Stuff's refusal to give airtime to climate change denialists, accusing us of abandoning our journalistic principles by not giving ‘balance’ and showing ‘both sides.’
“But matching fact with fiction isn't balance. When we write about global air travel, we don't quote Flat Earth Society members who deny the planet is round. Fake balance – which puts reality on level pegging with nonsense – is dangerously unethical.”
The point Patrick makes is excellent. I don’t think it’s acceptable that nay-sayers in the New Zealand media have an unbalanced access to a huge audience.
It creates confusion in the minds of the public at a time when we need to stop debating the existence of human-induced climate change and get on with sharing positive actions about what Kiwi households and companies are doing to reduce further global warming.
Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 per cent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organisations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.
And the radio presenters are out of step with their listeners. A recent ECCA survey of 1000 people conducted by TRA found more than 80 per cent agreed climate change is real, and about the same number agreed that we could all be doing more to combat the global rise in temperature, including individually and at the Government level.
But 88 per cent of respondents said companies needed to do more to reduce their impact on the environment. So, what we need the media to do is commit to sharing more stories of businesses that are cracking this stuff and making dents in their carbon emissions so other organisations can learn how to tackle this very real business threat.
Stuff’s survey showed
Stuff is taking the survey’s results to inform new features and storytelling formats and pursue the best news stories. This is known in business as Testing and Measuring. You put out a product, you listen to what your audience genuinely thinks of the product, and you adjust accordingly.
As I said at the start, it’s smart to realise that branding in favour of sustainability will gain rather than lose business.
In my last blog, I discussed Auckland Council using the phrase “climate change emergency” because urgency gets results.
What brand could be more urgent than the brand Stuff has chosen: ‘Quick! Save the Planet.’
Give us a call, send us a message or call in and see us. We’d love to hear from you.