The Listening Post

A change of climate in the media?

Activism, science and politics push the biodiversity crisis up the news agenda. Plus, patriotism in Chinese cinema.

On The Listening Post this week: A perfect storm of activism, science and politics pushes the biodiversity crisis up the news agenda. Plus, patriotism in Chinese cinema, past and present.

A change of climate in the media?

It is one of those news stories, maybe the only one, that seems almost too big to cover: climate change and the scientific consensus that the planet is almost at the point of no return. The evidence is overwhelming.

A UN report last week warned that roughly one million plant and animal species face extinction. News outlets struggle to find the right way to cover the story, the relentless onslaught of the evidence – the data. But there are signs that things are changing.

Corporate media, which have fed off natural disasters, floods and famines, while shying away from larger, causal issues, are now starting to examine and link the global economic system to an issue that has brought us to the brink. Movements like Extinction Rebellion and terms like the Green New Deal are trending – and for far longer than the standard 24-hour news cycle.

Are the news media finally giving the climate change story the coverage it deserves?


Ehsan Masood – Science journalist
George Barda – Activist
Kate Aronoff – Contributor, The Intercept
Vishwas Satgar – Associate Professor, University of the Witwatersrand

On our radar

Richard Gizbert speaks to producer, Johanna Hoes, about WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who has been sent back to prison for the second time this year. And the British programme – The Jeremy Kyle Show – that has been taken off air after a guest took their own life.

When Propaganda Sells: Blockbuster Films & The Chinese State

For all the attention Hollywood and Bollywood attract, the past two years have produced the three highest grossing movies in China‘s cinematic history. ‘Wolf Warrior 2’, ‘Operation Red Sea’ and ‘The Wandering Earth’ have different settings and themes – they are all action films. But look beyond the gratuitous violence, implausible plotlines and special effects and you will detect some jingoistic themes that are very much in line with President Xi Jinping’s brand of national assertiveness.

Cinema has always played a central role in the media strategy of the Communist Party. Are we simply seeing more celluloid-based propaganda – revamped for the 21st century? Or just a market-based response to the demands of Chinese movie-going audiences?

The Listening Post‘s Meenakshi Ravi reports on the new blockbusters of Chinese cinema.


Chris Berry – Professor of Film Studies, King’s College London
Patrick Frater – Asia Bureau Chief, Variety
Sabrina Yu – Senior lecturer, Newcastle University
Stanley Kwan – Film Director