Green or Blue, the Papers Show Their True Eco-Colours ; Coverage of the Climate Change Bill Was Depressingly Predictable ++ ON THE PRESS

Article excerpt

"Concern over global warming is a welcome reminder that there is more to morality than just sex," said Oliver McTernan, speaking about the publication of the Climate Change Bill in Thought for the Day on Radio 4's Today programme. It was the sort of refreshing insight we look for in this slot, and the least predictable contribution to a depressing week for the media, not to mention the planet.

If and when it comes, the global catastrophe will affect the high and lowly, the rich man and the poor man - or ABs and DEs as we call them these days - equally. And the consequences of carbon emissions will not vary according to which newspaper you read, or whether your politics tend to left or right.

Such truisms were not reflected in the coverage of Cameron's policy and Brown's Bill. The press divided down the usual, predictable lines, seemingly unaware that not all issues are like that. Papers that pride themselves on their knowledge of their audience seem to think, crudely, that upmarket equals concern and downmarket complacency, that left means believing the majority of the scientists, right being sceptical. I look forward to the conversations, and indeed the newspapers, when the floods are lapping around us.

The red-top Sun and Mirror provided very little coverage, presumably assuming their readers would be not much interested, and both portrayed the issue as a Brown/Cameron battle. "Is Cameron's real aim to save the planet or to fund an election bribe?" asked The Sun. The Mirror saw it as heavyweight versus lightweight. "Mr Cameron's greenwash was eco-spin, while Mr Brown grapples with the substance of what can be done."

At the other end of the market the papers divided green/ blue, emphasising either environmental or economic aspects of the debate. So The Independent gave much more space than any other paper to the story, six pages in a special issue with one of its trademark "poster" front pages featuring simply blue sky and the words "The climate has changed". …