Climate Researchers’ Ship Trapped By Ice; Only 1 of 23 Network News Stories Mention Mission

Stranded researchers were on Antarctic Expedition to study climate change.

Scientists on a climate change expedition to Antarctica have been stranded since Christmas morning because the ice trapped their ship. Yet, the networks have nearly ignored what the mission was all about.

But the broadcast networks seem to have forgotten why the Russian ship, Akademic Shokalskiy, was on its way to Antarctica. Since the ship became stranded Dec. 25, only one story out of 23 on the network morning and evening news shows mentioned that climate change had anything to do with the expedition. So far, three rescue attempts have been thwarted by growing levels of sea ice and weather conditions.

According to ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Dec. 30, “the ice could be as thick as 13 feet.” Rather than pointing out the purpose of the scientists, the networks often referred to the stranded people as “passengers,” “trackers” and even “tourists,” with no mention of climate change. Chris Turney, the expedition’s leader, is a professor of climate change at the University of South Wales.

The only network news report to mention climate change at all was CBS “This Morning” on Dec. 30. “Despite being frozen at a standstill, the team’s research on climate change and Antarctic wildlife is moving forward,” CBS News Correspondent Don Dahler said. The Business and Media Institute was unable to view a copy of CBS “Sunday Morning” for Dec. 29, so that broadcast had to be excluded from the tally.

The passengers and crew are now expected to be rescued by helicopter, once the weather permits it, according to the Dec. 30, USA Today.

Before their ship got stuck in ice, the researchers were following the trail of the explorer Douglas Mawson, who was stranded in Antarctica for more than a year, beginning in December 1912, according to the website about the expedition.

— Mike Ciandella is Research Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Mike Ciandella on Twitter.