Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 6 of 6 items for

  • Author or Editor: Bernadette Woods Placky x
  • Refine by Access: All Content x
Clear All Modify Search
Kristin M. F. Timm, David Perkins, Teresa Myers, Bernadette Woods Placky, and Edward W. Maibach
Full access
Kristin M. F. Timm, David Perkins, Teresa Myers, Bernadette Woods Placky, and Edward W. Maibach

Abstract

Television weathercasters are uniquely situated to inform their audiences about the local impacts of global climate change and a growing number of them are adopting the role of climate change educator. We surveyed all American broadcast meteorology professionals in 2015 (N = 2,059; response rate = 22.6%), 2016 (N = 2017; response rate = 31.2%), and 2017 (N = 2,177; response rate = 22.1%) to assess weathercasters’ interest in reporting about climate change; if, where, and how they report about climate change; and the reactions they get from their audiences when they do. Many participating weathercasters indicated that they were moderately or very interested in reporting about climate change, especially using local historical climate information (56%). Just over half of the weathercasters (57.9%) had used one or more communication mode to inform their viewers, or other people in their community, about the local impacts of climate change in the prior year. The most commonly used modes were social media (42.7%), school visits (36.3%), community events (33.1%), and on-air broadcasts (31.3%). Most weathercasters who had reported about climate change on air indicated they received either positive viewer feedback or little feedback (61.9%); conversely, weathercasters who had not reported about climate change expected to receive mostly negative feedback (44.2%). In sum, this analysis suggests that large numbers of weathercasters have adopted the role of climate change educator in their communities; they use a range of communication modes to share climate change information with their audiences and receive mostly positive feedback from their audiences when they do.

Free access
Bernadette Woods Placky, Edward Maibach, Joe Witte, Bud Ward, Keith Seitter, Ned Gardiner, David Herring, and Heidi Cullen

Abstract

Local TV meteorologists are optimally positioned to educate the public about the local implications of global climate change: They have high public trust as a source of climate science information, local TV is the #1 source of weather information in America, and most weathercasters have relevant scientific training and excellent communication skills. Surveys show that most TV meteorologists would like to report on climate change, but lack of time, lack of broadcast-quality graphics, and lack of access to appropriate experts are barriers that inhibit such coverage.

With funding from the National Science Foundation and philanthropic foundations, we developed Climate Matters as an educational resources program to help interested local TV meteorologists educate their viewers about the local impacts of global climate change. Currently, the program provides more than 160 participating weathercasters nationwide with weekly localized broadcast-ready graphics and script ideas, short videos, and opportunities for brief (hour-long webinars) and more intensive (day-long seminars) professional development sessions—at no cost to participating weathercasters. We aim to more than double participation in the program over the next several years.

This article will chronicle the development of Climate Matters over the past five years—beginning with a pilot test at a single news station in Columbia, South Carolina, that was shown to be effective at helping viewers better understand climate change and culminating in a comprehensive national educational resource program that is available to all interested weathercasters.

Full access
David Perkins, Ed Maibach, Ned Gardiner, Joe Witte, Bud Ward, Bernadette Woods Placky, Keith Seitter, and Heidi Cullen

Abstract

As American Meteorological Society (AMS) members who study Americans’ understanding of climate change and who are engaged in programs to educate Americans about climate change, we want our AMS colleagues to realize their key role in public education. In this article we make the case that 1) AMS members are well positioned to play important leadership roles in educational outreach on climate change, 2) the public wants to learn more about climate change, 3) there is a need for more effective public engagement efforts, and 4) we have successful outreach and educational models that we can start using today.

Full access
Teresa A. Myers, Edward W. Maibach, Bernadette Woods Placky, Kimberly L. Henry, Michael D. Slater, and Keith L. Seitter

Abstract

Climate Matters is a localized climate change reporting resources program developed to support television (TV) weathercasters across the United States. Developed as a pilot test in one media market in 2010, it launched nationwide in 2013; in the autumn of 2019 more than 797 weathercasters were participating in the program. In this paper we present evidence of the impact of the Climate Matters program on Americans’ science-based understanding of climate change. We analyzed three sets of data in a multilevel model: 20 nationally representative surveys of American adults conducted biannually since 2010 (n = 23 635), data on when and how frequently Climate Matters stories were aired in each U.S. media market, and data describing the demographic, economic, and climatic conditions in each media market. We hypothesized that 1) reporting about climate change by TV weathercasters will increase science-based public understanding of climate change and 2) this effect will be stronger for people who pay more attention to local weather forecasts. Our results partially support the first hypothesis: controlling for market-level factors (population size, temperature, political ideology, and economic prosperity) and individual-level factors (age, education, income, gender, and political ideology), there is a significant positive association between the amount of Climate Matters reporting and some key indicators of science-based understanding (including that climate change is occurring, is primarily human caused, and causes harm). However, there was no evidence for the second hypothesis. These findings suggest that climate reporting by TV weathercasters, as enabled by the Climate Matters program, may be increasing the climate literacy of the American people.

Open access
William A. Yagatich, Eryn Campbell, Amanda C. Borth, Shaelyn M. Patzer, Kristin M. F. Timm, Susan Joy Hassol, Bernadette Woods Placky, and Edward W. Maibach

Abstract

Prior research suggests that climate stories are rarely reported by local news outlets in the United States. As part of the Climate Matters in the Newsroom project—a program for climate-reporting resources designed to help journalists report local climate stories—we conducted a series of local climate-reporting workshops for journalists to support such reporting. Here, we present the impacts of eight workshops conducted in 2018 and 2019—including participant assessments of the workshop, longitudinal changes in their climate-reporting self-efficacy, and the number and proportion of print and digital climate stories reported. We learned that participants found value in the workshops and experienced significant increases in their climate-reporting self-efficacy in response to the workshops, which were largely sustained over the next 6 months. We found only limited evidence that participants reported more frequently on climate change after the workshops—possibly, in part, due to the impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on the news industry. These findings suggest that local climate-reporting workshops can be a useful but not necessarily sufficient strategy for supporting local climate change reporting. Further research is needed to illuminate how to support local climate reporting most effectively.

Significance Statement

As part of an NSF-funded project to support local climate change news reporting, we conducted a series of eight journalist workshops. Here we evaluate their impacts. Participants gave the workshops strong positive ratings and experienced significant increases in climate-reporting self-efficacy. There was only limited evidence, however, that the workshops led to more frequent reporting on climate change—a conclusion muddied by the impacts of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on the news industry. These findings suggest that local climate-reporting workshops may be a useful strategy but that additional research is needed to strengthen the approach.

Restricted access