Pity the trees. For U.S. newspapers and television, celebrity articles and gossip trump stories about the environment by a wide margin.
Beyonce Knowles, the pop singer and actress, gets 11 times more mentions in U.S. media than stories about deforestation and five times more than the ocean’s health, according to a report by the Project for Improved Environmental Coverage non-profit group. Environmental stories made up less than 1 percent of headlines last year, its survey shows.
“The environment intersects with a number of other issue areas people care a great deal about, like health, the economy and national security to name a few,” said Todd Pollak, co-director of the group. “And we know Americans want more.” About 79 percent are interested in more environmental stories, he said.
Climate change was the most visible environmental topic among 10 highlighted by the study. Carbon emissions have also attracted political attention in the runup to United Nations talks this December in Paris after commitments by the U.S. and China, the two largest economies, to reduce output of greenhouse gases in the coming decades.
The U.S. isn’t the only media market where environmental stories haven’t received attention. Last month, a popular Chinese documentary film on air pollution choking major cities was erased from websites ahead of an annual meeting of the legislature where President Xi Jinping pledged to protect the environment.
Last year, visibility, or the number of mentions of environmental topics, in U.S. media rose 17 percent after declining “steeply” from 2010 to 2013, the study based on a survey of 33 major news organizations including CBS News and the Washington Post by the Project for Improved Environmental Coverage said.