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Visualizing Climate Change: Television News and Ecological Citizenship

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 01:15 authored by Elizabeth LesterElizabeth Lester, Cottle, S
Television images can provide powerful symbols of ecological disaster. As Ulrich Beck notes (2009, p. 86), the catastrophic consequences of climate change must be made visible not only to enhance understanding, but also to generate pressure for action. Taking our cue from current social theoretical ideas about media and ecological citizenship, as well as from Beck’s writings on the “symbolic politics of the media,” we set out to empirically examine the nature of climate change visualization within television news. We explore two analytically distinct dimensions of news visualization: 1) pictures, scenes, and spectacular images of nature(s), places, and people as under threat; and 2) how accessed strategic relations of contention are visually infused with signs of trust and credibility. To better understand the contribution of the news media to ecological citizenship, we argue that we must attend to both of these visual rhetorics and examine how each enters into the public representation, elaboration, and now deepening contentions of climate change.


Publication title

International Journal of Communication






School of Humanities


University of Southern California, Annenberg Center for Communication

Place of publication


Rights statement

Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial No Derivatives 2.5 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.5)

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

The media

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