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Climate change … always a bridesmaid

Climate change ... always a bridesmaid

The "Story of the Century" and its status in the news.

By 2050, many of climate change's worst projected impacts could be fully upon us—or fully upon our descendants.

The question is, will a half-century of sustained manmade upheaval ever dominate the top of the news?

I'm skeptical.

Worldwide, COVID-19 has had a lock on Top Story for a year now. In the U.S., two horrid mass shootings, one with strongly racist overtones, prompted a flurry of headlines, and a week of outrage, feigned or otherwise, about arming or disarming the populace.

Reporting on such stories is of course vital. But the press follows the public's attention span. In his long-awaited first press conference on March 25, President Biden fielded 10 questions from the White House Press corps. It was almost a no-brainer that climate change wouldn't make the cut. But wait a minute – neither did coronavirus. The shiny objets du jour included immigration, the filibuster, Afghanistan, China, and, of course, whether President Biden will run for a second term in 2024.

The liberal press watchdog group Media Matters for America issues annual tallies of press coverage of climate-related issues. They found 2020 was the sparsest year for climate coverage on U.S. commercial cable news since 2016. Granted, the presidential election and the COVID-19 pandemic sucked the oxygen out of newsrooms. But the record Atlantic hurricane season, and multiple other extreme weather items, failed to blow any back in.

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