Revealed: Study finds the national media anti-renewable

A recent YouGov poll, showed overwhelming public support for renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Despite this in a report released last week by the clean tech unit of the PR consultancy CCgroup indicates that renewables are in fact mainly portrayed negatively in the majority of news stories.
The study How the UK national media treats renewables, found that national media sentiment towards the renewable energy industry is negative, neglects the voice of the sector and is out of sync with wider public opinion. The media plays a substantial role in any industry’s success and the findings indicate an urgent need for the renewable energy industry (a vital sector for sustainable economic growth in the UK) to step up its communication efforts to avoid further erosion in public, political and investor confidence.

Even though the green economy accounted for over a third of UK growth last year, the study found that only 21% of national newspaper articles about the renewable energy industry are positive. Additionally, false consumer cost figures were given by the broadsheets studied in relation to the recent energy bill.

Publication
Total number of articles
No. of very positive articles
No. of positive articles
No. of neutral articles
No. of negative articles
No. of very negative articles
The Sun
16
1
5
3
6
1
Daily Mail
23
0
1
4
10
8
Daily Mirror
8
1
3
2
2
0
The Daily Telegraph
44
1
3
15
22
3
The Times
47
4
10
14
17
2

 Of the 138 articles that were studied, ranging from The Sun, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, The Daily Telegraph and The Times, more than 50% were found to portray the industry negatively. On a macro level, this threatens public and wider stakeholder support, fuelling policy and investment uncertainty, impacting local planning consent and future industry development. Unsurprisingly, the Daily Mail were found to be the broadsheet with the most negatively stories on renewable energy with a whopping 78.5%, with only 4% of it’s articles portraying the industry in a positive light.
Charlotte Webster, Head of CleanTech at CCgroup, said:

“Right when the renewables industry should be seeing rapid growth, it’s in the centre of a communications crisis with the media holding one arm behind its back. This economy boosting, innovative, business savvy industry is simply not having its story heard. But it’s not the media’s ‘fault’. There is an empty platform here that renewable energy businesses need to fill, with urgency, and those that do will be the ones to see the rewards not just for industry as a whole but themselves too.”
She adds:
“I’d advise that organisations in the renewables space regain control and make themselves available to media by investing in communications, particularly with the trade press. Tuning into talking and telling stories of innovation and growth will help strengthen the industry and increase the visibility of positive stories and facts in the media as a whole. What’s clear is that investment really is needed to turn this picture around.”  
The sentiment toward different renewable energy technologies was also analysed. The majority of coverage across the five newspapers focused on wind energy with 68% of the articles focusing on the technology. Wind was also the most negatively portrayed technology with 58% of articles covering it in a bad light. However the study found coverage was more positive towards solar, marine and hydro, though they failed to capture the media’s attention accounting for only 29 of the 138 articles between them.
This all comes in the wake of the mixed signals coming out of the Conservative about their stance on renewable energy, with Tory backbenchers trying to influence senior Tory members to adapt an anti renewable stance.
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