Citizen Attitudes Regarding Environmental Coverage:  Nearly 80% of Americans Believe News Coverage of the Environment Should Be Improved

According to a new national poll that the Project for Improved Environmental Coverage commissioned and was conducted by the Public Opinion Research Corporation, 79% of Americans believe news coverage of the environment should be improved.

Methodology   Approximately 1,000 individuals responded to a question posed over the phone by Opinion Research Corporation staff. The question provided was “Do you think news coverage of the environment should be improved?” Here is a link to the question and a link to the survey methodology. Additionally raw tabular data can be reviewed here.

Summary of Findings   The difference between men and women was minor with slightly more women (82%) than men (76%) believing the news media should improve coverage.

By race, 88% of African-Americans polled felt shared this view versus 79% of Hispanics and 77% of whites suggesting that concern over environmental issues may actually be slightly higher for nonwhites than whites.

Regionally there was very little variation with 77% of those polled in the Northeast, Midwest, and West feeling news coverage could be improved while 83% of those in the South felt this way

As household income increased, belief in the need for better coverage decreased slightly: 84% of those with incomes below $35,000/year and 74% of those whose incomes exceed $100K/year felt coverage should be improved.

Level of education also had little impact on Americans’ views with 83% of those who have a high school diploma or less and 76% of college graduates believing coverage should be improved.

Somewhat surprisingly, age made no difference.  In fact, 79% of 18-24 years old and 79% of those over 65 felt coverage should be improved.

The poll also asked Americans about how they felt news coverage of the environment could be improved and several choices were provided.  Over half (51%) felt all of the following would help improve coverage:

  • Making the relationship between the environment and other issues more clear
  • Focusing more on solutions
  • Making environmental stories more appealing to a larger cross section of society
  • Making environmental news more visible by including in top headlines

Each of these four strategies are included in the national Vision for Improved Environmental Coverage, which was launched by the Project for Improved for Improved Environmental Coverage on February 28 of this year.  A number of environmental journalism professionals helped craft the vision including representatives from: TIME Magazine, Society of Environmental Journalists,  Michigan Radio, Huffington Post, San Francisco Chronicle,  Solutions Journal, Grist Magazine and the Knight Center of Environmental Journalism.