National prisms of a global phenomenon: A comparative study of press coverage of climate change in the US, UK and China

Celine Yunya Song*, Michelle Zeping Huang, Jonathon P. Schuldt, Y. Connie Yuan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This study compares press coverage of climate change in the US, the UK and China from a longitudinal perspective, through a combination of computer-assisted quantitative linguistic analysis and critical discourse analysis. Specifically, we examine the extent to which these three countries portray climate change similarly or differently, and further explore how moral reasoning – a growing area of research in climate change communication – may shape media portrayal of the issue across different cultures. There have been few scholarly inquiries examining how moral reasoning is deployed in media discourse around climate change. This study aims to address this gap with a comparative analysis of moral reasoning in news about climate change in leading national newspapers from three countries over a 6-year period. The findings suggest that while US and UK newspapers tended to frame climate change coverage as a domestic issue, Chinese media tended to frame it as a global issue that the world community needs to tackle. Moreover, US and UK newspapers often adopted the balanced reporting norm in communicating uncertainty and controversy, in contrast to the climate consensus that was firmly embedded in Chinese media discourse. Overall, the findings show mixed support for East and West differences in the moral rhetoric underpinning their climate change press coverage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2208-2229
Number of pages22
Issue number10
Early online date28 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Climate change
  • corpus linguistics
  • cross-national
  • moral foundations
  • news discourse


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