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:
How we identified climate stories
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.
The Total Engaged Minutes* over the first quarter is up 52% and 80%, respectively.
*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.
- Jan. 20, 2017: Trump inauguration: removes mentions of climate change from whitehouse.gov
- June 1, 2017: The U.S. withdraws from Paris Climate Accords
- Oct. 8, 2018: Release of the new IPCC (UN Climate) report
- Dec. 3, 2018: Attenborough speaks at the UN climate change summit in Poland
- March 15, 2019: Global Climate Strike for Future
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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