OneOcean Response Room Briefing – Edition #14

Date: 16th October 2020

The OneOcean team has been working on a fortnightly media analysis – the OneOcean Response Room briefing – that looks at the intersections between COVID-19 and environment content, the environment and ocean content, and ocean and COVID-19 content on both legacy and social media.

During the COVID-19 situation, it is important to understand the kind of conversations that are taking place, what is resonating with people and why, to ensure that our communication is as impactful as possible and – at the very least – does no harm in this sensitive time. 

The briefing provides recommendations and example materials which reflect the findings from our analysis. Find to follow a summary of the top-line findings of this week’s briefing, covering 28th September – 11th October 2020.

The full OneOcean Response Room weekly briefing and supporting analysis is available to Flotilla members. If your organisation is interested in receiving this briefing, is not a member and interested in joining, please email travis@oceanprotect.org

Summary of findings

Threats to ocean health made up almost half of ocean-related legacy media coverage collected over the past two weeks. Three key stories dominated this theme: a report on microplastics on the ocean floor; reports of a toxic spillage off the East coast of Russia; and a report on increased ocean ‘stability’ and associated risks as a result of climate heating.

Approaches and solutions to addressing threats to ocean health were much lower in volume. Coverage tended to be focused on technology and industry-led solutions to specific issues and was mostly featured in trade publications.

There was a considerable number of articles that connected individuals to the ocean through leisure, sports, endurance events, arts and fundraising ventures, highlighting ongoing individual appetite for connection with the ocean, particularly after (or between) pandemic lockdowns.

A variety of other ocean-related topics came up in smaller quantities. There was some focus on fisheries, particularly with a food or Brexit related angle. Ocean animal stories had a cetacean focus, particularly where there was crossover with human activity (orcas and dolphins banned from marine parks, shark attacks, consideration of shark squalene for COVID-19 vaccination).

In addition to what was present in the data, we also took note of what was absent. In the data that we gathered, we were surprised to see only one mention of the UN Biodiversity Summit, which was attended by nearly 150 leaders and sought to highlight the need for action to halt biodiversity degradation. There was significant media coverage of both the summit and the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, where 64 nations signed a commitment to put nature at the heart of post-COVID recovery.

Given the minimal pick-up of the Leaders’ Pledge and summit in our data, we conducted a separate analysis of legacy and social media around the Leaders’ Pledge and UN Biodiversity Summit to examine potential reasons for this. The top-level nature of coverage suggests the lack of engagement with any specifics. However, analysis into deep-dive articles around the margins of the main coverage suggest some bias towards terrestrial examples, while terrestrial-focused efforts also achieved a low level of cut through. A summary of the findings and suggestions for future opportunities can be found in Additional Research.

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