Taking the temperature of climate change engagement: Our analysis

More readers are paying attention to climate stories today compared to the last two years. Our recent research suggests that increased global coverage has contributed to this growth, but we wanted to see what role Engaged Time has played in the story.

Some research and findings below.

How we analyzed climate change content engagement

Our research sample compared articles published on climate change during the first quarter of each year since 2017. How much coverage are we talking about? Climate change content has been fairly extensive:

climate change articles produced_chartbeat data

How we identified climate stories 

A “climate story” here refers to any article that talks about the topic of “climate change” or related climate entities, such as the IPCC, the UNFCCC, or the Youth Strike 4 Climate.

The data on climate change engagement

The reader engagement data suggests that climate change content is in demand, contrasting a popular view that it’s a “ratings killer.” The number of articles written in the first quarter of this year is up 27% and 56% from 2017 and 2018, respectively.

(Related: Capitalizing on readership during major news events)

The Total Engaged Minutes* over the first quarter is up 52% and 80%, respectively.

chartbeat total engaged minutes climate change content

*Engaged minutes are defined as the total amount of time readers actively spend consuming an article.

Hot take: Why more readers are paying attention to climate change

When we took a closer look at the increased Engaged Time, the spikes suggested ties to a timeline of notable events that referenced major climate change policy changes or resolutions.

For instance:

These findings are an important reminder that Engaged Time gives a more holistic view of how audiences interact with content compared to pageviews

The number of articles written on climate change have increased 56% over the past year. If audiences were agnostically “bumping around the Internet for things to read” you’d expect a similar increase in Engaged Time. However, we’re seeing that audiences are paying 80% more attention to climate change content this year. There’s an appetite for this content—the demand is outweighing the supply.

As I recently noted to CJR, climate change content matters. And as the data shows, it may not be completely fair to claim any longer that “climate change” as a topic is a ratings killer for news outlets.

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