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Dearth of media coverage on climate change the focus of former Environment Minister’s talk

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Former Green Party Leader and Minister for the Environment, John Gormley gave an eye-opening talk on climate change last night in the University of Limerick. The lecture was sponsored by the UL Environmental Committee

The former cabinet minister spoke of the scarcity of news coverage on climate change, with ‘coverage peaking around the time of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference (COP15)’ in 2009.

Among the news organisations criticised were the Irish Times and the public service broadcaster RTÉ.

“It is regrettable [the Irish Times] don’t have a dedicated Environmental Correspondent,” the former Lord Mayor of Dublin said.

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Pictured: John Gormley introducing Dave Robbins, lecturer and researcher in the School of Communications at DCU.

Gormley also questioned RTÉ’s decision to marry the roles of Environment and Agriculture Correspondent, saying: “It’s like having a Fossil Fuel and Environment Correspondent. From a public service broadcaster, it’s disgraceful.”

As well as questioning the coverage given by mainstream news organisations, Gormley also called for climate change to be introduced to mainstream discourse: “You’re not some loony Green when talking about Climate Change. We have to make it mainstream.”

Since leaving representative politics in 2011 Gormley has completed an MSc in film making and has produced and directed several environmental documentaries.

Highlighted in his lecture were some ways news organisations framed news stories about climate change to engage the audience. These included news stories that were deemed “apocalyptic” in nature or that had “economic consequences”.

The former Green Party leader also spoke to UL students this morning about a recent film project.

Gormley, who currently teaches political communication in DCU, was first elected to Dublin City council in 1991 and served as Lord Mayor of Dublin from 1994 to 1995.

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