Antal Wozniak, Hartmut Wessler, Julia Lück
Who prevails in the visual framing contest about the UN Climate Change Conferences?

Journalism Studies, 2017: 18, Heft 11, S. 1433-1452
ISSN: 1461-670X (print); 1469-9699 (online)

The annual Climate Change Conferences (Conferences of the Parties, COPs) held under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change are global staged political media events that regularly provide occasions for contesting the framing of global warming in media coverage around the globe. This study assesses which professional group involved in communicating the COPs—journalists, government spokespeople, and representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—is most successful in seeing their visual framing conceptions represented in mainstream print media coverage. Our analysis combines data from 44 semi-structured interviews with actors from these groups conducted on-site at the COPs in Doha, Qatar (2012) and Warsaw, Poland (2013) with a content analysis of climate change news published in newspapers from five democratic countries around the world. Results show a relative prevalence of NGO-preferred visual framing in COP coverage. Through providing powerful pictures of symbolic actions, civil society actors can prevail in the visual framing contest under certain conditions, but it is much harder for them to circumvent the usually strong statist orientation of mainstream news media in sourcing textual messages.