TV News Coverage of Paris Agreement Lacks People of Color Representation

By Yessenia Funes Jun 09, 2017

Research nonprofit Media Matters for America released a study yesterday (June 8) focused on whom cable news networks invited on their shows to discuss President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the international Paris Agreement on June 1.

The takeaway? Not people of color.

The study examined the guests on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN between June 1 and 2 who spoke about the climate pact. Out of 286 guests, only about 17 percent were people of color: 9 percent Black, 4 percent Asian, 3 percent Latinx and less than 1 percent Middle Eastern.

As Media Matters makes clear, this finding is “striking” given that communities of color bear a disproportionate burden from climate change and the activities that contribute to it (like fossil fuel extraction). When the networks would invite people of color, the conversations often focused on direct impacts their communities would face—and, in many ways, already are.

Per Media Matters:

When minority voices do find a foothold in the climate change discussion, the intersectionality of the issues becomes more apparent. African-American journalist April Ryan, one of the few non-white guests invited to discuss the Paris decision on CNN, emphasized the real-life human consequences of climate change, including disasters like Katrina, floods, droughts and mosquito-borne diseases.

Additionally, in Spanish-language media’s coverage on Univision and Telemundo, reports on the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris accord explained the impact of climate change on Hispanics and provided a platform for Latinos to voice their opposition to the move. 

Find the study here.