Read our Critical Evaluations of Climate Communication
Vismedia publishes six evaluation reports made by students at the University of Bergen.
Written by Lars Nyre, Andy Opel and Kristin Eidsheim.
In the spring of 2020 thirty students in Media City Bergen made critical evaluations of climate journalism relying on eye-tracking, stress measurements and qualitative interviews. This was the first part of a course where they also designed new solutions for climate communication. Read more about the innovative course here.
The student groups evaluated climate journalism and climate dissemination in the local newspaper Bergensavisen (BA), the national broadcaster NRK and the regional Natural History Museum (in collaboration with Scary Weather). The insights are presented as design implications for future production, and as such they are valuable to journalists, climate communicators and the general public.
The six evaluation reports are therefore published by Vismedia with consent from all the participating students. It is unusual for exam reports to be published, but it would be unfortunate for such high quality work to remain unavailable, and publication furthermore gives students a clear sense of ownership to their work.
Together, these evaluations demonstrate the real value student research offers to professional organizations. By moving the work from the classroom to the real world, students take the work more seriously and see the impact their research can have on industry practitioners. Students also gain first hand understanding of how media products are developed and they learn the value of integrating research findings into the development of media products as a way to improve the reception of the news and information.
The six evaluations
First, the collaborating media company is presented briefly, and then the students’ evaluations of their climate communication are summarized. Click on the icons to access the full reports. They are available in English and Norwegian.
Bergensavisen (BA) is the second largest newspaper in Bergen, and one of (currently) 86 local newspapers in the Amedia Corporation. BA covers Bergen and its suburbs, pluss the municipalities Askøy, Fjell and Os. It was established as a Labour Party newspaper in 1927, and has since become politically independent. It's online edition ba.no was established in 1996. The contact for the MIX202 student projects was editor in chief Sigvald Sveinbjørnsson.
In this project, BA’s use of graphical elements in their climate journalism is evaluated. By conducting interviews and user tests on nine homeowners between the age of 30-61 years old, the group analyses how well the graphic elements in two of BA’s articles are communicating to homeowners and whether they are complementary. Homeowners as a target group brings an interesting aspect to the evaluation and the report provides valuable insight into how BA can improve their content by doing minor adjustments, such as implementing interactivity or simplifying complex research data.
To what extent is BA’s climate journalism engaging to their target audience? This project evaluates whether two of BA’s climate articles were engaging to nine parents between the age of 37-57, with a particular focus on visual elements. The evaluation is based on interviews and user tests with said parents. Despite the parents’ claim to be engaged in the climate debate, as well as stating that the theme of the articles are interesting and important, the two articles fail to encourage any engagement. This evaluation reveals several fascinating aspects as to why BA’s climate journalism is unclear and does not communicate the climate issue effectively.
NORWEGIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION (NRK)
NRK is Norway's main public broadcasting service, financed by tax income to inform, educate and entertain the population. Like the BBC in Britain, NRK is supposed to produce content characterized by cultural and geographical diversity in a politically neutral way. NRK runs a number of radio and TV stations, as well as a large website (nrk.no). The contact for the MIX202 student projects was editor of the climate task force; Astrid Rommetveit.
In this project, a multimedia article and informational video by NRK are evaluated. By conducting interviews and user tests on eight parents between the age of 26-50, this evaluation provides valuable insight into how one should design and communicate climate content in order to create a satisfactory user experience, as well as engage the audience. Some interesting findings include that the article is too long and has low readability, as well as the pace of the video being too fast and that it should contain less information per minute.
This project takes on a critical assessment of NRK’s media content. By conducting interviews and user tests on eight high school students between 18-19 years old, the content and design of two informational videos are evaluated, with the purpose of finding out how young people respond to videos which communicate statistics and attitudes towards climate. Although findings reveal that both videos mainly succeed in their communication, this evaluation highlights some interesting factors that may inhibit the audience’s perception.
SCARY WEATHER/NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM, UIB
Scary Weather is a media company that produces interactive installations and multimedia stories about weather and climate change. The company is responsible for a number of installations at the University of Bergen's Natural History Museum, including The Globe Room. The museum re-opened in 2019 after several years of renovation and modernization, and Scary Weather's installations are an important part of their public displays. CEO Ronald Toppe was the contact for the MIX202 student projects.
By conducting interviews and user tests on ten 18-19 year old high school students, this project evaluates how The Globe Room communicates to a young audience, as well as whether the visual tools in the room are beneficial in doing so. One of the main findings include that The Globe Room has several disruptive factors that should be taken into account, as they interfere with the experience. It also became evident that the installations’ interface and usability would benefit from improvement; for example regarding the way sound is used in the noisy environment of a museum. This evaluation provides important aspects into how the younger generation might grasp climate information, which plays an important part in shaping their attitude towards climate.
This evaluation provides an interesting outlook on how elderly perceive climate communication from a museum installation, in light of interviews and user tests on ten grandparents between the age of 50-80. Grandparents belong to a generation that usually have witnessed major changes in weather and temperature, as well as growing up in a different technological age. Thus they add a fascinating perspective. The evaluation highlights several aspects as to why the installation is lacking in regards to user-friendliness, as well as giving insight into how grandparents would like to use the installation with their grandchildren.
THE PEDAGOGICAL TEAM
The course leader for MIX202 was Professor Lars Nyre. Subject teachers were Professor Andy Opel (Florida State University), Senior Engineer Zulfikar Fahmy, PhD Fellow Fredrik Håland Jensen, PhD Fellow Oda Elise Nordberg and Master's Student Jonathan Lindø Meling. The evaluations were translated into English by Kristin Eidsheim.
Our contacts in the companies were chief editor Sigvald Sveinbjørnsson in the newspaper BA, journalist and leader of the task force for climate journalism Astrid Rommetveit in NRK, and media entrepreneur Ronald Toppe in Scary Weather.