Ocean Media Coverage

Author: Sparknews

December 2021

This report from Sparknews was supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) to better understand how global media outlets cover ocean issues.

The analysis by Sparknews studied media coverage of ocean-related issues in news outlets across the globe in 2021. It looked at international and national publications in English, French, Spanish and German, identifying global trends for ocean media coverage, especially around international moments such as Earth Day, World Ocean Day, the IPCC report and COP26. It also analysed regional media coverage of five ocean topics: climate change, pollution, habitat destruction, sea level rise and overfishing.

Key findings from the report include:

  • The ocean is often mentioned in media in relation to geopolitical, economic, and social issues, rather than being covered as a standalone topic, including specific challenges facing ocean health
  • Journalists find it difficult to engage audiences with the ocean; its damage is hard to capture visually, and its presence is not an immediate reality for the wider public
  • Some angles are more effective than others at engaging audiences – such as the economic value of the ocean (Blue Economy) and human stories. Personal stories that give voice to individuals who have experienced climate change first hand, in particular, were said to have a very strong take on readers.


The report provides final observations whilst highlighting practices that could help construct a stronger narrative around the ocean. The study comprised a quantitative analysis (a wide and broad analysis of 47 news media outlets’ coverage of the ocean) and a qualitative analysis (in-depth analysis of 13 news media outlets’ coverage of the ocean). It incorporated interviews with journalists to understand how they report on the ocean and challenges they face. The report is now being used to inform other projects to improve ocean media coverage.  


Read Report
Updated on 07 september 2022

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