Skip to content

West Michigan Media Mostly Ignores International Climate Summit

December 11, 2009

The world’s leaders and tens of thousands of activists have come to Copenhagen, Denmark for the UN Climate Summit. Many commentators are calling this a critical gathering, one that could determine the future of humanity. With so much at stake you would think that the news media might make it a priority to let people know what is happening, both with the formal negotiations and with the demands and actions of civil society in the streets.

When looking at the news media in West Michigan you find that other issues are more important. Granted, local news outlets should make local issues a priority, but that does not mean that anything local is news.

Take for instance a story that has received significant coverage in the past 24 hours in the local news media about a former GVSU football coach who has been at the University of Cincinnati was hired as the new Notre Dame football coach. All of the local TV stations have made this news and the Grand Rapids Press made it the main headline in Friday’s paper. So the question should be asked, how does this story impact our lives?

Comparatively, the Press has not run any local stories in their print publication this week and the only online story I came across that was written by Press staff was about the 56 newspapers around the world that ran a joint editorial calling on the world’s leaders to take strong action to reduce carbon emissions. The Press writer, Troy Reimink, fails to mention that most of the newspapers involved were not from the US and certainly none of them were papers owned by Advanced Publications, one of which is the Grand Rapids Press.

The only local daily news source that has reported on the Climate Summit on Copenhagen was WOOD Radio. On Friday, WOOD Radio ran a short story about a GVSU student who is a youth delegate at the UN Climate Summit. The story quotes Danielle Ostafinsk, but provides no information about the Summit or what she has participated in directly. The Clear Channel owned station also didn’t mention that Danielle was one of the organizers of a Climate Justice Day in Grand Rapids this past October.

This lack of coverage in the West Michigan news market on what is possibly the most critical issue of this generation is quite staggering and it speaks to the growing need for independent journalism.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 11, 2009 9:46 pm

    West Michigan Media has NEVER been my authoritative for information ! more or less a form of amusement
    Although the Grand Rapids Press did put me on the front page holding a picket sign against Spiro Agnew in the early seventies !
    Bring back the student informer !

  2. Jeff Smith permalink
    December 11, 2009 9:53 pm

    I would agree with the local media being more entertainment than news. The main reason we critique the local media is that it is a main source of information for lots of people, so it is important to understand what people in this area are getting or not getting from these media sources, especially if you want to do any education or organizing.

  3. Kyla permalink
    December 12, 2009 7:24 pm

    The Press published an AP article today but cut out the section that talked about the ongoing protests in Copenhagen. The caption under one of the two photos included by the Press says “Activists dispersed: Danish police push a small group of demonstrators back to a sidewalk…” making it seem that demonstrators are a measly group. The Press probably won’t run another story on Copenhagen, at least not for a while, so readers will never hear about the 25,000 plus who marched today or the 600-700 who were detained by police. Even if the Press does run another story, it is not likely to include information about who these demonstrators are, where else around the world they are demonstrating (including locally, as Jeff points out), or perhaps most importantly, what their demands are.

    Similarly, Press readers with fine-toothed combs probably noticed the picture of a locked-out Light Metals worker on page A4 next to an article about the weather. The caption mentions that he is picketing, but doesn’t say why (of course, there is not enough space in a caption). I found a Press article online from back on Nov. 2 about the lock out, but no updates since then, although to me it is pretty newsworthy that they continue to stand outside after a month and a half.


  1. Local Media Fails in Climate Summit Coverage « Chasing Truth
  2. Local Media Fails in Climate Summit Coverage « Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: