Atolls in the ocean - canaries in the mine? Australian journalism contesting climate change impacts in the Pacific

Christopher Nash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This article has two complementary aspects, empirical and theoretical. Empirically, it examines the reportage of the two most prolific Australian journalists on the threat posed by climate change to low-lying Pacific island states, reporting over the two-year period leading up to and following the high-profile COP 15 summit in Copenhagen in 2009. It was at that summit that the concerns of the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) were given extensive media coverage and managed to dominate the agenda for several days, to the consternation of some other summit participants. COP 15 affords a good case study because the media coverage of this issue was variegated and heavily contested, contrary to earlier scholarly claims about an allegedly mono-dimensional quality to the journalism about climate change in the Pacific Ocean (Nash Bacon, 2013). The two journalists were Adam Morton, environment reporter for The Age newspaper in Melbourne, and Rowan Callick, Asia-Pacific editor for The Australian, who produced ten and seven distinct reports respectively on this issue over the period, and took more or less contrary positions on the validity of the threat claims. Theoretically, the article argues firstly, and following Tuchman (1978), that spatio-temporality is a defining dimension of journalistic research and reportage, and it extends Tuchman by drawing on the work of David Harvey (1973, 2006) and Henri Lefebvre (1991) to analyse and compare the spatio-temporal dimensions of the reportage by the two journalists. Secondly, it argues that the successful application of scholarly debates about spatio-temporality to journalism practice supports the contention that some journalism can and should be treated as scholarly research practice alongside other humanities and social sciences (Nash 2013, 2014).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79 - 97
Number of pages19
JournalPacific Journalism Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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