Framing Climate Change in the 5th Estate: Comparing Online Advocacy and Denial Webpages and Their Engagement

Zhan Xu, David J. Atkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Debates about anthropogenic climate change grew increasingly polarized as online channels emerged as primary news sources. This raises the question of how online media shape the perceived salience of climate change issues. Guided by agenda-setting theory and framing theory, this study utilized topic modeling to examine online climate change advocacy and denial webpages posted from 2007–2019. Engagement with media agendas, public agendas, and framing related to climate change were examined. Advocacy webpages were more engaging than denial webpages. The more frequently that a climate change topical frame was covered by online media, the more likely it would be engaged on social media (SM). Climate change topical frames differed in their ability to engage SM users. Several competing climate change advocacy and denial topical frames differed significantly in SM engagement. Results can help researchers to design effective climate change campaigns as well as develop programs to track and combat online misinformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-103
Number of pages20
JournalElectronic News
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • engagement
  • framing
  • social media
  • topic modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Communication

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