Meteorologist Jeff Berardelli is another driver of CBS’s dedicated climate coverage. The network’s “meteorologist and climate scientist” has long played a key role in integrating the climate discussion into its weather reports on CBS Matinees. He has also acted as a correspondent in numerous climate change reports for the network – for example, he was the field reporter in the aforementioned Bitcoin mining segment, interviewing several people in Seneca Lake, New York. Although Berardelli left CBS at the end of 2021, we hope CBS will continue to focus on highlighting the urgency of climate change in future coverage.
NBC was the second best-performing network in terms of the amount of weather coverage
NBC’s three main news programs – Today, evening newsand Meet the press — aired nearly six and a half hours of combined weather coverage (383 minutes) in 2021. That’s a 141% increase from 2020, when NBC aired a combined 159 minutes of weather coverage. Additionally, NBC’s 383 minutes of coverage in 2021 was more than the combined total of climate coverage across all television networks aired in 2020 (380 minutes).
NBC Nightly News aired 113 minutes of coverage across 59 segments in 2021, making it the second CBS Evening News in the amount of climate coverage. Today aired nearly four hours of coverage (239 minutes) across 120 segments in 2021 (again, second only to CBS Matinees in terms of the amount of climate coverage). Meet the press only aired 31 minutes of weather coverage in 2021, making it the worst-performing Sunday morning TV news show by the amount of weather coverage. Last year, NBC beat its two network peers in total weather coverage, airing 159 minutes across 94 segments.
Today The climate coverage looks good on paper, but taken in the context of the program’s extended runtime compared to its competitors, it’s disappointing that it didn’t air the most minutes of climate coverage in 2021. It is because Ttoday airs for three hours on weekdays, unlike ABC hello america and CBS Matinees, airing for just two hours on weekdays. That’s an additional five hours of weekly coverage over its counterparts – yet CBS Matinees vastly outperformed Today in total minutes of climate coverage in 2021. (Last year, however, Today was the top performing morning news program in terms of overall amount of weather coverage).
The third hour of Today (9 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET) airing 56 minutes across 15 climate segments in 2021 — 23% of Today full climate coverage. Notable third-hour segments included climate-focused interviews with White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy (January 27), Bill Gates (February 17) and activist Greta Thunberg (October 12). In the future, we hope that Today third hour will air more weather coverage.
NBC, like CBS, was an early member of the Covering Climate Now initiative. The network’s news programs participated in the initiative’s first week of joint coverage around Earth Day, airing a week-long “Climate in Crisis” series from September 16-23, 2019, and officially joined in 2020. NBC also aired a “Climate Challenge” series in preparation for Earth Day in April 2021 and again in September 2021.
Besides, Today has been doing segments dedicated to environmental issues since at least 2007. As of April 2021, Today explored environmental issues throughout the month through its “TODAY Goes Green” initiative.
NBC weather anchor Al Roker is a key player in the network’s weather coverage. He was featured in a recent Washington Post article about his commitment to covering climate issues, saying “I think people want action, and they’re taking it into their own hands.” In March, he received the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism from Arizona State University, telling local Phoenix NBC affiliate ahead of his acceptance, “I think most of our viewers think it’s important…because the climate, no matter who you are, where you live, it’s going to affect you. Whether directly or indirectly, it will affect you and it will certainly affect our children and this is one of, if not the greatest global crisis of our time.
ABC accounted for the most improved coverage overall
ABC aired nearly five and a half hours of weather coverage (about 323 minutes) across its morning, evening, and Sunday morning news in 2021. In 2020, the network aired just 90 minutes of combined coverage, a 259% increase. But for the second year in a row, ABC trails its corporate broadcast counterparts in combined minutes of weather coverage. Despite falling further behind CBS and NBC in 2021, ABC showed significant improvement over previous years in terms of the quantity and quality of segments.
ABC world news tonight aired 92 minutes of climate coverage across 57 segments in 2021. This is the ninth consecutive year that world news tonight aired fewer minutes of climate coverage than its counterparts on CBS and NBC. There are, however, promising trends in ABC’s evening news climate coverage in 2021, which is up 667% from 2020, when the program aired just 12 minutes. Additionally, the network’s 92 Minutes of Evening News shows that weather coverage this year is higher than the previous six years combined – from 2015 to 2020, world news tonight aired just 77 combined minutes of weather coverage.
ABC This week aired 36 minutes of climate coverage across 12 segments, representing an 80% increase in time from 2020 (20 minutes). That’s more minutes of coverage than NBC’s Meet the press (31), but less than CBS’ Confront the Nation and Fox Broadcasting Co. Fox News Sunday (43 and 40 minutes respectively). Besides, This week featured the only two climatologists to appear as guests on Sunday shows in 2021: Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University and Kristina Dahl of the Union of Concerned Scientists in the Aug. 8 edition.
ABC hello america aired 195 minutes of climate coverage in 2021, for three hours across 106 segments. In 2020, the program aired just 58 minutes of weather coverage, a 236% increase in airtime. hello america climate coverage last year peaked in November when the show aired 84 minutes – more than all of its climate coverage in 2020 combined.
In November, ABC announced its “Climate Crisis: Saving Tomorrow” reporting initiative, a month-long feature on climate coverage that coincided with the UN climate conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. The initiative spanned seven continents and ran across multiple ABC platforms, preceded by the network’s announcement that it was joining Covering Climate Now. ABC News President Kim Godwin said of the initiative: