4.1 Research design, methodology
In order to assess media and journalistic practices in relation to the reporting of climate change policy in Australia, we conducted a content analysis of 10 Australian newspapers between February and July 2011.
We have supplemented the content analysis with examples and small case studies. The newspapers chosen were: The Australian, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, The Advertiser, The Courier Mail, The Northern Territory News (NT News), The Mercury and The West Australian. (Note: Mastheads that have a Sunday edition were merged. For example, The Age figures include The Sunday Age figures.
|Newspaper||Location||Owner||2011 circulation||2011 readership||Format and target audience|
|The Australian||National||News Ltd||130307||257000||Only general national newspaper, higher income readers|
|The Sydney Morning Herald||Sydney, NSW||Fairfax||200194||754000||Broadsheet, higher income readers|
|The Daily Telegraph||Sydney, NSW||News Ltd||354893||949000||Tabloid, lower income readers|
|The Age||Melbourne, Vic.||Fairfax||197200+||685000||Broadsheet, higher income readers|
|Herald Sun||Melbourne, Vic.||News Ltd||488600||1333000||Tabloid, lower income readers|
|The Advertiser||Adelaide, SA||News Ltd||173957||430000||Tabloid, only metropolitan daily, Adelaide|
|The Courier Mail||Brisbane, QLD||News Ltd||199284||591000||Tabloid, only metropolitan daily, Brisbane|
|The Mercury||Hobart, Tas.||News Ltd||43513||103000||Tabloid, only metropolitan, Hobart|
|The Northern Territory||Darwin, NT||News Ltd||19985||44000||Tabloid, only metropolitan daily, Darwin|
|The West Australian||Perth, WA||Seven West Media||195007||547000||Feeds into Channel 7 Yahoo! website, only metropolitan daily, Perth|
The Dow Jones Factiva database was used to retrieve all articles relevant to climate change policy and the debates around them. Researchers then removed those items that only included incidental mentions of climate change policy. For example, articles that included references to the ‘Minister for Climate Change’ were not included and if ‘climate change’ merely appeared in a list of items in a story on another topic, the article was excluded.
Pieces in which climate change policy was not the main focus of the article but which nevertheless included significant content about climate change were included. Articles were coded into spreadsheets according to:
- Word count;
- Topic (Climate policy);
- Genre (Feature, News, Short feature, Letters);
- Stance (Towards positive or negative towards the proposed carbon policy);
- Language use (Price or tax or both);
- Types and identity of sources quoted;
- A breakdown of business sources into different industries.
For articles in the last three months of the study, we also included the dominant theme of the article, where one was apparent.
Social science and media students from the University of Technology Sydney and the University of Sydney were selected as researchers to be part of the study. They were trained in the coding according to selected criteria. All raw data was entered into spreadsheets and checks were conducted to ensure accuracy in coding.
It should be noted that all figures in this report have been rounded to a whole figure.
In all there were 3971 articles that dealt with climate change policy. Of these articles all but 181 articles focused on the carbon emissions reduction policy.