3.5 Supporting TV meteorologists' efforts to educate their viewers about climate change, and testing the impact: A quasi-experimental field study

Tuesday, 25 January 2011: 9:30 AM
618-620 (Washington State Convention Center)
Joe Witte, NASA / George Mason University, Arlington, 22209; and J. Gandy, B. Klinger, H. Cullen, X. Zhao, J. Thaker, K. Rowan, N. Heller, and E. Maibach

A recent national survey found that 96% of TV meteorologists who are interested in reporting on climate change (and 64% of all TV meteorologists) felt that access to high quality graphics and animations for use on-air would improve their ability to report on climate change. In spring 2010, a team of broadcast meteorologists, climate scientists, communication scientists, and broadcast writers and producers developed a small library of brief-format, broadcast-quality graphics, animations and scripts that broadcast meteorologists can use to educate their viewers about climate change and its potential local manifestations. From summer 2010 to summer 2011, the WLTX weather team in Columbia, SC is incorporating these materials into their on-air, online and community presentations on an “as helpful” basis. Baseline and both longitudinal and cross-sectional follow-up viewer surveys are being conducted to assess learning outcomes among viewers. This presentation describes the brief-format educational materials and demonstrates how they are being used, presents key findings from the baseline viewer survey, and describes the quasi-experimental design being used to assess learning outcomes. Also discussed are the tensions involved in climate change education such as the fact that audiences are more likely to be interested in local impacts yet the science of large-scale climate is more fully understood. Overall this field experiment provides an important opportunity to study methods for assisting TV meteorologists in communicating about climate change, and to assess the learning impacts among their viewers when they do.
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