Photojournalism as a Vehicle for Public Engagement with Climate Change
Author(s): Joanna Nurmis
The power of photographs to engage the public with multifaceted, complex issues of global scope such as war, hunger, and terrorism has been widely discussed and researched by media and social studies. However, all too often images accompanying “environmental” stories in the news are chosen according to worn out stereotypes of nature, whereby the image serves merely as an illustrative “hook” for the text, conveying no story of its own. At the other extreme, images associated with climate change stories veer towards the gripping yet distant sublime, often leaving audiences deeply concerned yet hardly moved towards action or even attitude change. This brief summarizes the most relevant studies of climate change image impacts of the last decade and provides concrete recommendations for photo editors wishing to employ images that maximize the public’s affective, cognitive and behavioral engagement with this pressing issue.
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