Our ways of discussing climate change affect politics

Risto Kunelius, professor of media and communication studies, believes that journalism retains a key role in public discourse.

What are your research topics?

I study the role of the media and journalism in particular in public discourse and political decision-making. Recently, I have focused my attention on climate change and related communication, as well as the tensions between privacy and security. In terms of these topics and the communication of them, the media contributes to the moulding of a political imagination vital to society. 

Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact?

Our understanding of climate change and our assumptions on what others think about it – and why they do so – are increasingly structuring political discourse. The role of the media in maintaining this discourse affects all of us every day.

As society is becoming increasingly digital and datafied, the establishment of systems for controlling and monitoring privacy and public engagement is continuously transforming our relationship with both various societal institutions and other individuals.

What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?

I am inspired by the new ways of writing about and describing climate change that are produced by citizens, researchers and specialists in media and communications. In current discussions, promising examples demonstrate that journalism and the media have a lot to give also in the future. The transformation of the media landscape often causes worry, but combined with larger questions it also possesses a positive force for change.


Risto Kunelius is a professor of media and communication studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences.

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