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The Paris Climate Talks (COP21) in Visual Social Media


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I will be presenting research on visual social media during the 2015 Paris climate talks (COP21), a collaboration with Luis Hestres (University of Texas at San Antonio), at the 2017 International Conference on Social Media and Society at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada July 30 ( The conference is organized by the Social Media Lab at Ryerson.

Research summary: Within networked, digital media spaces, new news platforms are reconfiguring traditional news production norms through hybrid cultural practices, giving rise to new paradigms of journalism. There is an increased emphasis on transparency and accountability, as well as interaction with audiences. At the same time, Internet-mediated activism allows individuals to foster larger, more diverse networks of weak ties, thus opening new avenues for advocacy communication. Climate change is increasingly becoming the backdrop to news stories on topics as varied as politics and international relations, science and the environment, economics and inequality, and popular culture. We use the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) that took place in Paris from November 30 to December 11, 2015, as a case study. The project focuses on COP21 coverage by British news outlet The Guardian, which launched a fossil fuel divestment campaign "Keep it in the Ground" in advance of COP21. We compare The Guardian's discussion of 'climate solutions' during COP21 with other news outlets and climate stakeholders.

The work-in-progress paper is available through ACM at:

Published in: News & Politics
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The Paris Climate Talks (COP21) in Visual Social Media

  1. 1. Dr. Jill Hopke (@jillhopke) and Dr. Luis Hestres (@luishestres) Social Media and Society 2017 THE PARIS CLIMATE TALKS (COP21) IN VISUAL SOCIAL MEDIA
  2. 2. Journalism as climate activism. 2 THE GUARDIAN AND THE “KEEP IT IN THE GROUND” CAMPAIGN
  3. 3. 195 nations agree to limit global greenhouse gas emissions with voluntary targets. 3 COP21 NOV. 30 TO DEC. 12, 2015
  4. 4. @jillhopke and @luishestres 4 CLIMATE SOLUTIONS IN VISUAL SOCIAL MEDIA Past research shows visuals of climate solutions are important in audience perceptions of climate change and for encouraging action. We ask: •  How do the Guardian’s COP21 visual tweets compare to other stakeholders?
  5. 5. @jillhopke and @luishestres 5 12 CLIMATE STAKEHOLDER CATEGORIES Guardian Movement organizations Left-leaning news Individual activists U.S. publications Multinational Institutions and Scientific Organizations Climate Publishers Network (CPN) Multinational Representatives / Scientific Experts Other UK publications Fossil Fuel Industry / Trade Associations Individual journalists Other Environmental Organizations
  6. 6. @jillhopke and @luishestres 6 CLIMATE SOLUTIONS CODING FRAMEWORK Nation-state contributions- International Treaty Nuclear Procedural - International Treaty Personal Behavioral Change Outcomes - International Treaty Transparency (Climate Risk and Financial) Non-treaty International Climate Science/Research Clean Energy and Efficiency No Solution Fossil Fuel-based Solutions Not Applicable
  7. 7. By climate stakeholder category, Nov. 21 to Dec. 20, 2015 @jillhopke and @luishestres 7 VOLUME OF COP21 VISUAL TWEETS
  8. 8. 8 Climate Solutions by Climate Stakeholder Category χ2 (df=121, N=9,477)=3986.991, p=.000. Cramer’s V=.196, p=.000.
  9. 9. Climate Justice 9 THE GUARDIAN
  10. 10. Climate Justice 10 MOV’T ORGS
  11. 11. Procedural – Treaty 11 US NEWS
  12. 12. Nation-state contribution – Treaty 12 FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY
  13. 13. Outcomes – Treaty 13 MULTI- NATIONAL ORGS
  14. 14. @jillhopke and @luishestres 14 METHODOLOGICAL ISSUES TO CONSIDER •  Machine vs. human coding of visuals o  Challenge of visualizing abstract concepts •  Holistic coding of text + visuals o  What about cases when text and visuals vary in theme? •  Posts removed from native environment in which audiences view/interact with
  15. 15. @jillhopke and @luishestres 15 WHAT’S NEXT? •  Effects of U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement of pending withdrawal from Paris Accord o  International commitment to agreement o  Cities and states stepping-up on U.S. climate action o  Better understanding of fossil fuel industry / supporters visual messaging needed