Air Quality news coverage in Indian News Media: A time to retrospect
Air pollution is looked upon as an emerging concern in India, as it is becoming a serious health threat for people living in densely populated towns and cities, with children and elderly being most at risk. India contains 11 out of the 20 most polluted cities in the World. Air pollution is reported every year on national dailies with stories varying from stubble burning to closing of educational institutions, but does the reportage cover crucial aspects and factors that lead to soaring air pollution in Indian cities? Despite its implications for society at large, climate change is difficult to perceive and understand for most lay audiences. As a complex and unobtrusive issue, people often encounter it via news media. The news media attention to climate change plays an important role in influencing public opinion by helping people to better understand the complexities of the issue to make their demand for action more vocal.
Primafacie, air quality/air pollution and climate change are observed as two independent issues but interwoven with each other on regional and global level due to non-linear and bi-directional interactions between the two. The on-going global climate change debate is making the understanding of the problem of air quality difficult to deal with, whereas the poor air quality is enhancing the magnitude and frequency of climate change implications.
With this understanding, studies are needed to look into the levels of issue attention towards climate change with an emphasis on air quality news coverage in the national editions of newspapers. Apparent movement of the sun between the tropics caused by an annual oscillation in the parameters of the sun – the earth geometry results in different seasons over a hemisphere. As extreme weather events and severely poor air-quality episodes are generally specific to a particular season. Studies need to be undertaken on stories centred on extreme weather events (heat waves, floods etc.) and air-quality deterioration episodes published in different national editions of Indian dailies.
It is high time for Indian climate researchers to explore the prevalence of frames, themes, topics and dimensions (scientific, ecological and societal) in the news-media coverage of the issue and how the stories of climate change with reference to air quality coverage, perceives and reports the discussion of science and scientists in news media.