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No summer slump, no climate coverage: The most important news topics in Augus

Multiple crises of our time are crowding out the summer slump. We took a look at our data and analyzed the most important topics in German online media in August. What's striking is that some topics suddenly appear at the top of the pages. And others - surprisingly - not at all.

Two wave patterns intertwine in the reporting. As shown in the News Recap 2021, there are waves of coverage that depend on the day of the week. In particular, significantly fewer news articles are published on weekends. This is also evident in the August 2022 topics, as the number of articles on these key topics decreases on weekends. In addition to the first wave pattern of weekdays, there is a second wave within topics.

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The chart represents the most frequent topics in news articles within the top ten positions on the most important German news sites. In addition to familiar topics such as the Corona Virus and the war in Ukraine (our report on the topic can be found here), there were also surprising topics that now receive little attention in September, such as the conflict in Kosovo, the Bundeswehr mission in Mali or the explosion of Darja Dugina's car in Moscow.

But there are also some rather unexpected topics. For example, the situation in Afghanistan has provided regular media coverage, the conflict between Taiwan and China as well. The latter, in particular, was a major topic of discussion in early August when U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. The issue, however, kept resurfacing within the month. Corona also continues to be an issue, but much less so than in the winter.

Within the topics themselves, subtopics often show up. For example, on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In addition to general reporting, e.g. on the course of the front or the humanitarian situation, important sub-topics form on the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant and grain exports from Ukrainian ports. The attack on Darya Dugina, the daughter of a Russian intellectual, can also be assigned to this main topic.

The second wave: Within topics

Some of these sub-themes are short-lived and leave a short strong wave. The explosion of Darya Dugina's car is an example of such a topic. On August 21, the first news reports were published about the explosion in Moscow. Then, one day later, a total of 16 articles appeared in our data sample. But after that, the topic hardly appeared in the front positions of the news pages and disappeared from the relevant area of coverage.

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Many other topics have multiple waves that move forward over time. For example, the RBB scandal involving former director Patricia Schlesinger, which was a relevant topic in the media, repeatedly appeared throughout August. However, the reporting on this is not constant; there are always a few days when the topic gains relevance and articles are published accordingly.

The same is true for Donald Trump. Although as a former U.S. president and controversial figure he is in the media a lot anyway, only new revelations and twists in the story are really relevant topics that receive appropriate journalistic coverage. The search at his residence in Mar-a-Lago and the ex-president's ever new accusations and defense attempts lead to the wave pattern of reporting visualized here.

One main topic is missing: climate change

Almost more interesting than the topics that receive relevant coverage are those that receive less attention in the reporting. Climate change, for example, is almost not mentioned at all as an overarching topic. It is true that some subtopics, e.g., the forest fires (in August, especially in Grunewald), are partially covered. However, the larger classification in the topic area of climate change is apparently missing.

One attempted explanation for the problem in reporting is the frequent lack of direct evidence linking an event to climate change. Moreover, other crises, such as the war in Ukraine and the resulting energy crisis and inflation, are much more current and can be directly combined with events that are currently taking place. The cabinet meeting at Schloss Meseberg to negotiate relief packages in the face of price increases is easier to assign to this topic area than forest fires are to climate change, since these also occurred in the past and direct evidence is usually lacking.

Nevertheless, this neglect of the issue in this record summer heat is striking. Climate change still does not seem to have received its due coverage in newsrooms. For more on the extent of climate change coverage, click here.


A look at the topics in August reveals that coverage follows wave patterns. The waves result from the varying extent of coverage on weekdays and from issues that occur periodically. Some topics can be defined as overarching issues that split into smaller sub-issues based on their extent. In particular, these subtopics often proceed in waves and occur due to singular events. In August, the major overarching themes were the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis and inflation. Climate change, on the other hand, as an important overarching issue, is absent and barely addressed.


For this report, the home pages of,,,, and were analyzed. Only the top 10 positions were evaluated. These positions form the core of the news pages and contain the most relevant articles. The data sample thus represents the reporting on the most important topics by a large proportion of the most important German publishers. The entire period from August 01, 2022 to August 31, 2022 was analyzed thematically. Machine-learning algorithms were used to determine the topics.

About this article

Written by Stefan Paulus

Published at: 9/14/2022, 4:00:00 PM

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