Saing Te

Saing Te

Doctor of Philosophy
Master of Philosophy

When bad news happens, the media reports it. But what happens when the news is about a long-term systemic change to the earth’s climate? How do you keep people informed without overwhelming them?

It is how audiences perceive and respond to global warming issues that forms the focus of Saing Te’s research. The Doctor of Philosophy candidate is analysing the portrayal of climate change and how media audiences perceive and respond to global warming issues.

“Audiences rarely sustain interest in major news events for long periods; either more recent events usurp attention or same-as-it-ever-was reporting leads to ‘compassion fatigue’.

“This experience entails a sense of anxiety, weariness or pessimism about addressing disasters or injustices.”

Underlying science
Saing says that scientific research can explain the behaviour of the physical and natural world, but it does not address disagreements over climate change policies.

“I hope that my research will advance public knowledge about the causes and consequences of climate change, as well as its mediated representation in New Zealand,” says Saing who received the AUT Vice-Chancellor’s Doctoral Scholarship to support her studies.

Powerful messages
She hopes to be able to show the media’s role in explaining and analysing a complex subject, and its power to promote emotion over reason.

“What is required is an analysis of the vested interests associated with the perpetuation of global warming, alongside a critique of mass media coverage, which, by blocking systemic causes, induces a sense of hopelessness.

“Analysing the portrayal of climate change will contribute to national and international debates about the environmental, political, economic and socio-cultural implications.”