This paper explores the reporting of three indices – the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Human Development Index (HDI) and Ecological Footprint (EF) – in the national press of the UK between January 1990 and December 2009. The indices were compared over both time (year and month of article publication) and space (across the component countries of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, ROI). Results suggest that there are significant differences in reporting of the three indices. The EF appeared more frequently and was employed more often in articles than the CPI and HDI, perhaps reflecting a greater flexibility of the EF in terms of methodology and its association with consumption at all social scales, including the individual. The HDI was used by journalists more often as an ‘ornament’ to provide factual support to discussion of development, aid, conflict etc. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.