Environmental news communication has come a long way and, for some time now, has become part of mainstream journalism. News conveying information about human interaction with, and the impact on, the environment is even more essential today than at any other time because public knowledge and understanding of the environment can help us appreciate what is or is not happening. This assists us in how we conduct yourself in our lives and the decisions we make in our workplace.

Making Enviro News continues to play its unique role as a facilitator of environmental /climate change news. In 2019, Making Enviro News monitored around 144 publications to provide a daily information portal that collates Australian media articles in a 24-hour cycle. During this period 11,169 news items were accessed. This is the second year that insights are shared on what drew the attention of the readers.

Subjects covered over the 12 months have been quite extensive and relate to various aspects of environment, climate change and sustainability. The topics covered were wide and varied such as climate change, environment, science, sustainability, circular economy, conservation, biodiversity, energy, infrastructure, built environment, pollution, waste and recycling. The list goes on dividing into numerous subsets. Much of the news was influenced by some of the significant events that took place such as (in no specific order and by no means exclusive): –

  • The Federal Election
  • Matters relating to energy, especially the role of renewable energy, continued to be hotly contested in the political arena, with little to no consensus. Yet renewable energy maintained its profile in the news through the launch or completion of various projects, government funding or new research.
  • Disasters from home and around the world brought on by extreme weather events included the heatwaves in Europe, the African and Australian droughts and the fires in the Americas and Australia. The increased frequency of these extreme events was debated which led to discussion about the role of climate change played.
  • Man-made disasters feature regularly. This year the focus seemed to be directed towards ocean pollution particularly on plastic. The profile of microplastic was raised as research demonstrated how it was getting into the food chain. This opened discussion to the various sources of microplastics.
  • It was a year that saw the rise in prominence of the Extinction Rebellion, the Climate Change School protests and Greta Thunberg. Polarizing views were expressed which invited much discussion, at times lowering to an unpleasant personal level.
  • The recycling crisis continued with little true resolution. It did however focus more attention to our lifestyles, the resultant waste and possible micro solutions that the individual could take up.
  • Whilst health issues related to climate change and the environment have always been present, the extreme weather, extensive pollution gave it greater exposure in the general news with more research and commentary being featured on a regular basis.
  • The year ended with COP25, discussion to emission targets and the various countries efforts or lack thereof.

This is a broad-brush view of some of the key events that shaped the news in 2019. It only scratches the surface, yet it demonstrates the diversity of issues covered. It reinforces how our lives are impacted on a daily basis. It also illustrates how hard it is to stay on top of all that is happening.

Each weekday via social media (Facebook and Twitter), Making Enviro News report the three most accessed news item from the previous issue. The most viewed story via Making Enviro News in 2019 was “Climate change doomsday report predicts end of human civilisation” by Mike Cook via News.com.au written on 5 June 2019. Table 1 lists the top 3 news items for 2019.

DateHeadlineAuthorMedia Source
5/6/19Climate change doomsday report predicts end of human civilisationMike CookNews.com.au
18/6/19‘Alan Jones is wrong’: Radio commentator slammed over climate change remarks on Q&A science panelNo author sitedNews.com.au
3/6/19Explaining Adani: why would a billionaire persist with a mine that will probably lose money?John QuigginThe Conversation
Table 1: Top 3 articles accessed via Making Enviro News in 2019

The top news item viewed by month provides a glimpse into what was engaging our readers throughout 2019. It also provides an insight into areas of interest that grabbed the readers’ attention.

MonthHeadlineAuthorMedia Source
JanOne year on: where is Australia’s recycling going now?Narelle TowieThe Guardian
FebAustralia on track to meet Paris Agreement targets five years earlier than expected, research findsGary-Jon LysaghtABC News
MarAustralia’s five black cockatoosAngela HeathcoteAustralian Geographic
AprAustralia’s 2018 environmental scorecard: a dreadful year that demands actionAlbert Van DijkThe Conversation
MayWorld-leading environmentalist turns his back on renewable energyRay Hadley2GB
JunClimate change doomsday report predicts end of human civilisationMike CookNews.com.au
Jul40 years ago, scientists predicted climate change. And hey, they were rightNeville NichollsThe Conversation
Aug‘Bunch of bedwetters’: Matt Canavan attacks Aurecon for cutting ties with AdaniPaul KarpThe Guardian
Sep‘You have no idea’: Minister’s stunning answer on climate changeSam ClenchNews.com.au
OctLetter by 240 leading scientists calls on Scott Morrison to stem extinction crisisAdam MortonThe Guardian
NovCoercion is coal’s only friendShireen KhalilRenewEconomy
DecSee how global warming has changed the world since your childhoodTim Leslie, Joshua Byrd, and Nathan HoadABC News
Table 2: Top articles by month via Making Enviro News

By examining the top 10% of news items accessed by Making Environmental News Readers (see graph 1), it is clear that there is an extensive array of publications that feature news in this area and are accessed by our readers.

There appears to be a correlation between the volume of articles produced by the publication in this area and the greater likelihood that the publication will be accessed more often. If there is a large volume of articles produced yet there is some sort of subscription involved our readers are less likely to access these news item unless it is not covered by any other publication.

Graph 1:Top 10% of news items accessed by publication

In 2019, the ABC News is without a doubt the most click through news source, followed by The Conversation and then The Guardian Australia. It should be pointed out that in 2019, more lifestyle publications were included because of the increased frequency of articles being published. Fashion as an industry became more vocal about various aspects of sustainability and its impact on the environment which was reflected in the associated publications. More famous personalities became outspoken on their views and position. This invited much discussion and put them under the spotlight regarding their behaviour in this area. In addition, various terminology became popularised for example ‘flight shaming’ became a phrase regularly seen.

Graph 2 provides a snapshot of the topics covered in the news items accessed in 2019. It should be pointed out that most articles would cover more than one topic, but for simplicity we chose the main topic featured in the article.

Graph 2: Topics featured in news items accessed in 2019

Clearly, anything that related to politics was the most accessed in 2019. This was 22% of all articles accessed via our services. The next 40% was nearly evenly distributed between news items relating to animals, business, climate change, energy and nature. There is nothing surprising about the breakdown of topics. It is interesting to observe that our readers continue to be interested in learning about various animals, newly discovered species and natural phenomena provided by publications such as Cosmos Magazine and Australian Geographic.

In addition to news articles, Making Enviro News have also been providing access to reports. Table number 3 provides a list of the top 10 specialist reports accessed throughout 2019.

 TitleOrganisation
1Existential climate-related security risk: A scenario approachBreakthrough – National Centre for Climate Restoration
2The Sustainable Development Goals ReportUnited Nations
3The role of packaging for Australian fresh produceAustralian Fresh Produce Alliance
4Creating a Sustainable Food FutureWorld Resources Institute, the World Bank Group, the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, the Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement, and the Institut national de la recherche agronomique.
5Towards good environmental governance? Assessing the evolution of Victoria’s environment portfolioParliamentary Library & Information Service, Parliament of Victoria
6From Tuvalu to Townsville: Climate Change Impacts on Health in Australia and the Asia Pacific Policy advice for Governments in AustraliaGlobal Health Alliance Australia
7The Global Risks Report 2019 14th EditionWorld Economic Forum
8ESG Reporting by the ASX200Australian Council of Superannuation Investors
9Building power system resilience with pumped hydro energy storageAustralian Energy Market Operator Limited
10Hit for Six – The impacts of Climate Change on CricketBritish Association for Sustainable Sport
Table 3: Top Specialist Reports accessed via Making Enviro News

2019 proved that keeping up with the news in this space is getting harder as more and more publications are producing articles providing information from various angles.

All data provided is based on information collected via Google analytics

by Izabella Kobylanski, Managing Editor of Making Enviro News & Principal at Planning Results
Request for permission to reproduce content should be directed to Making Enviro News

As a daily information portal that collates Australian media articles from a 24 hour cycle, Making Enviro News is in a unique position to review what articles and topics are generating the greatest interest. Topics covered are quite extensive and relate to anything in the environmental/sustainability area – climate change, environment, sustainability, conservation, energy, infrastructure, waste and recycling.

In 2018, readers accessed 11,768 articles which provided us with some interesting insight into what have been some of the trends amongst our readers.

As part of our service via Facebook and Twitter, we report on the top three most viewed news items. The most viewed story in 2018 was Debbie Cuthbertson’s article in The Age on 31 January 2018 – ‘Recycling rout was a disaster waiting to happen’. Here are the top stories by month.

Month Headline Author Media Source
Jan Germany city’s answer to disposable coffee cups is genius Lucy Rennick SBS World News
Feb Recycling rout was a disaster waiting to happen Debbie Cuthbertson The Age
Mar Fact check: Does a Toyota Corolla emit less than a Tesla? RMIT/ABC Fact Check ABC News
Apr Giant chasm is proof Africa is being pulled apart, experts say Ben Graham News.com.au
May ‘It’s all about vested interests’: untangling conspiracy, conservatism and climate scepticism Graham Readfearn The Guardian
Jun There’s more to the yellow bin than you may think, expert reveals do’s and don’ts of recycling Shireen Khalil News.com.au
Jul Recycling: how corporate Australia played us for mugs Jeff Sparrow The Guardian
Aug Hydrogen fuel breakthrough in Queensland could fire up massive new export market Lexy Hamilton-Smith ABC News
Sep How did Australia perform on its UN goals for a sustainable future? AAP/SBS SBS World News
Oct ABC preaches warming, ignores science Andrew Bolt The Herald Sun
Nov There’s more to the yellow bin than you may think: Expert reveals do’s and don’ts of recycling Shireen Khalil News.com.au
Dec Trees are worth billions to Australia’s economy — but how we value them is changing Farz Edraki ABC News

The majority of our readers were interested in what our politicians were doing in environment/sustainability/climate change area with waste and recycling also hot topics predominantly driven by China’s decision to stop taking Australia’s recycled waste and plastic bag bans and the ABC’s 2018 television series in the War on Waste on the ABC. Specific topics that dominated readers’ interest in this area were varied. It included articles relating to energy such as the national energy guarantee, related policies, land clearing and again waste and the recycling industry.

The following snapshot is of the top 100 news items accessed and broken down into broad topic classifications. Not surprisingly most articles would cover more than one topic, but for simplicity we chose the main topic featured in the article.

The top three topics were Australian politics and waste as well as animals and nature. It is interesting to observe that our readers are interested in learning about various animals, newly discovered species and natural phenomena. Not surprisingly, Australian Geographic and Cosmos Magazine dominated in this area.

As a free service, although we provide articles from subscription sources such as The Australian Financial Review or The Australian and other News Corp publications, we give preference to non-subscription media sources.  Looking at the most popular publications is interesting but it should be noted that it is skewed to non-subscription publication. Making Enviro News links to many news sources including specialist publications such as RenewEconomy, The Fifth Estate and Mumbrella, to name but a few. Nevertheless, our readers have a tendency to favour the major news sources such as News.com.au, ABC News and The Guardian. It is easy to hypothesize about the reason but without additional research, we cannot make any solid conclusions. Still, it is interesting.

For some years now, in addition to news articles we have also been providing access to reports. The main observation for 2018 is that the more frequently accessed reports had a business focus.

Here are the top five accessed in 2018.

  Report Title Organisation(s)
1 Biofuels to bioproducts: a growth industry for Australia – Discussion Paper Queensland University of Technology, Novozymes
2 Corporate Sustainability Reporting in Australia Australian Council of Superannuation Investors
3 Recharging the economy: The economic impact of accelerating electric vehicle adoption Electric Vehicle Council, PwC, The NRMA, The St Baker Energy Innovation Fund
4 Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2018 Frankfurt School – UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate & Sustainable Energy Finance
5 Aligning the Financial System with Sustainable Development United Nations Environment Programme

From a news perspective, 2018 provided a lot of diverse information from an array of media sources. The interesting fact that we noticed here at Making Enviro News was that Enviro News, in the broad sense of the term, was covered by a far greater cross section of publications. News items regularly appeared in fashion publications such as Vogue Australia and Marie Claire. Industry specific publications were also providing more enviro news. Today, enviro news impacts all walks of life and this is reflected in the media as articles appear in in almost all areas of interest, from leisure to business.

How the increase in coverage is having an impact on behaviour, well I will leave you to be the judge.

by Izabella Kobylanski, Managing Editor

Request for permission to reproduce content should be directed to Making Enviro News