Environmental news communication has come a long way and, for some time now, has become part of mainstream journalism. News conveying information about human interaction with, and the impact on, the environment is even more essential today than at any other time because public knowledge and understanding of the environment can help us appreciate what is or is not happening. This assists us in how we conduct ourselves in our lives and the decisions we make in our workplace.

Making Enviro News continues to play its unique role as a facilitator of environmental /climate change news. In 2019, Making Enviro News monitored around 144 publications to provide a daily information portal that collates Australian media articles in a 24-hour cycle. During this period 11,169[1] news items were accessed. This is the second year that insights are shared on what drew the attention of the readers.

Subjects covered over the 12 months have been quite extensive and relate to various aspects of environment, climate change and sustainability. The topics covered were wide and varied such as climate change, environment, science, sustainability, circular economy, conservation, biodiversity, energy, infrastructure, built environment, pollution, waste and recycling. The list goes on dividing into numerous subsets. Much of the news was influenced by some of the significant events that took place such as (in no specific order and by no means exclusive): –

• The Federal Election
• Matters relating to energy, especially the role of renewable energy, continued to be hotly contested in the political arena, with little to no consensus. Yet renewable energy maintained its profile in the news through the launch or completion of various projects, government funding or new research.
• Disasters from home and around the world brought on by extreme weather events included the heatwaves in Europe, the African and Australian droughts and the fires in the Americas and Australia. The increased frequency of these extreme events was debated which led to discussion about the role that climate change played.
• Man-made disasters feature regularly. This year the focus seemed to be directed towards ocean pollution particularly on plastic. The profile of microplastic was raised as research demonstrated how it was getting into the food chain. This opened discussion to the various sources of microplastics.
• It was a year that saw the rise in prominence of the Extinction Rebellion, the Climate Change School protests and Greta Thunberg. Polarizing views were expressed which invited much discussion, at times lowering to an unpleasant personal level.
• The recycling crisis continued with little true resolution. It did however focus more attention to our lifestyles, the resultant waste and possible micro solutions that the individual could take up.
• Whilst health issues related to climate change and the environment have always been present, the extreme weather, extensive pollution gave it greater exposure in the general news with more research and commentary being featured on a regular basis.
• The year ended with COP25, discussion of emission targets and the various countries efforts or lack thereof.

This is a broad-brush view of some of the key events that shaped the news in 2019. It only scratches the surface, yet it demonstrates the diversity of issues covered. It reinforces how our lives are impacted on a daily basis. It also illustrates how hard it is to stay on top of all that is happening.

Each weekday via social media (Facebook and Twitter), Making Enviro News report the three most accessed news item from the previous issue. The most viewed story via Making Enviro News in 2019 was “Climate change doomsday report predicts end of human civilisation” by Mike Cook via News.com.au written on 5 June 2019. Table 1 lists the top 3 news items for 2019.

Date Headline Author Media Source
5/6/19 Climate change doomsday report predicts end of human civilisation Mike Cook News.com.au
18/6/19 ‘Alan Jones is wrong’: Radio commentator slammed over climate change remarks on Q&A science panel No author sited News.com.au
3/6/19 Explaining Adani: why would a billionaire persist with a mine that will probably lose money? John Quiggin The Conversation

Table 1: Top 3 articles accessed via Making Enviro News in 2019

The top news item viewed by month provides a glimpse into what was engaging our readers throughout 2019. It also provides an insight into areas of interest that grabbed the readers’ attention.

Month Headline Author Media Source
Jan One year on: where is Australia’s recycling going now? Narelle Towie The Guardian
Feb Australia on track to meet Paris Agreement targets five years earlier than expected, research finds Gary-Jon Lysaght ABC News
Mar Australia’s five black cockatoos Angela Heathcote Australian Geographic
Apr Australia’s 2018 environmental scorecard: a dreadful year that demands action Albert Van Dijk The Conversation
May World-leading environmentalist turns his back on renewable energy Ray Hadley 2GB
Jun Climate change doomsday report predicts end of human civilisation Mike Cook News.com.au
Jul 40 years ago, scientists predicted climate change. And hey, they were right Neville Nicholls The Conversation
Aug ‘Bunch of bedwetters’: Matt Canavan attacks Aurecon for cutting ties with Adani Paul Karp The Guardian
Sep ‘You have no idea’: Minister’s stunning answer on climate change Sam Clench News.com.au
Oct Letter by 240 leading scientists calls on Scott Morrison to stem extinction crisis Adam Morton The Guardian
Nov Coercion is coal’s only friend Shireen Khalil RenewEconomy
Dec See how global warming has changed the world since your childhood Tim Leslie, Joshua Byrd, and Nathan Hoad ABC News

Table 2: Top articles by month via Making Enviro News

By examining the top 10% of news items accessed by Making Environmental News Readers (see graph 1), it is clear that there is an extensive array of publications that feature news in this area and are accessed by our readers.

There appears to be a correlation between the volume of articles produced by the publication in this area and the greater likelihood that the publication will be accessed more often. If there is a large volume of articles produced yet there is some sort of subscription involved our readers are less likely to access these news item unless it is not covered by any other publication.

Graph 1:Top 10% of news items accessed by publication

In 2019, the ABC News is without a doubt the most click through news source, followed by The Conversation and then The Guardian Australia. It should be pointed out that in 2019, more lifestyle publications were included because of the increased frequency of articles being published. Fashion as an industry became more vocal about various aspects of sustainability and its impact on the environment which was reflected in the associated publications. More famous personalities became outspoken on their views and position. This invited much discussion and put them under the spotlight regarding their behaviour in this area. In addition, various terminology became popularised for example ‘flight shaming’ became a phrase regularly seen.

Graph 2 provides a snapshot of the topics covered in the news items accessed in 2019. It should be pointed out that most articles would cover more than one topic, but for simplicity we chose the main topic featured in the article.

Graph 2: Topics featured in news items accessed in 2019

Clearly, anything that related to politics was the most accessed in 2019. This was 22% of all articles accessed via our services. The next 40% was nearly evenly distributed between news items relating to animals, business, climate change, energy and nature. There is nothing surprising about the breakdown of topics. It is interesting to observe that our readers continue to be interested in learning about various animals, newly discovered species and natural phenomena provided by publications such as Cosmos Magazine and Australian Geographic.

In addition to news articles, Making Enviro News has also been providing access to reports. Table 3 provides a list of the top 10 specialist reports accessed throughout 2019.

  Title Organisation
1 Existential climate-related security risk: A scenario approach Breakthrough – National Centre for Climate Restoration
2 The Sustainable Development Goals Report United Nations
3 The role of packaging for Australian fresh produce Australian Fresh Produce Alliance
4 Creating a Sustainable Food Future World Resources Institute, the World Bank Group, the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, the Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement, and the Institut national de la recherche agronomique.
5 Towards good environmental governance? Assessing the evolution of Victoria’s environment portfolio Parliamentary Library & Information Service, Parliament of Victoria
6 From Tuvalu to Townsville: Climate Change Impacts on Health in Australia and the Asia Pacific Policy advice for Governments in Australia Global Health Alliance Australia
7 The Global Risks Report 2019 14th Edition World Economic Forum
8 ESG Reporting by the ASX200 Australian Council of Superannuation Investors
9 Building power system resilience with pumped hydro energy storage Australian Energy Market Operator Limited
10 Hit for Six – The impacts of Climate Change on Cricket British Association for Sustainable Sport

2019 proved that keeping up with the news in this space is getting harder as more and more publications are producing articles providing information from various angles.

[1] All data provided is based on information provided by Google analytics

by Izabella Kobylanski, Managing Editor Making Enviro News and Principal Planning Results.

First published on Making Enviro News website
Request for permission to reproduce content should be directed to Making Enviro News