Climate whispers: Media communication about climate change

A. Henderson-Sellers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


The product often months of careful collection, review, analysis and international consensus building was, on completion, communicated through the news media in April 1997. The story, which concerned the potential for changes in tropical cyclone intensity in a greenhouse-warmed world, gained media interest in Australia because in the previous month Tropical Cyclone Justin had occupied public attention. The two days of media coverage essentially rewrote the committee findings. The process closely resembled the children's party game of Chinese whispers in which a simple statement is modified, sometimes beyond recognition, by repetition without understanding or correction. This paper reports and analyzes the processes involved in this miscommunication of science to and through the media and draws some salutory lessons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-456
Number of pages36
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


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