Improving News Media Communication of Sustainability and the Environment: An Exploration of Approaches
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The majority of earlier studies on media and the environment have concentrated on media contents, effects, and associated problems and limitations. The focus here on 'approaches to improvement' advances research in this field a step forward. This research proposes three broad 'approaches to improvemen' and undertakes four case studies to provide an exploration of their potentials.
First is the 'educational approach' of building journalists' knowledge. Two cases studies illustrate the high potentials of this approach. Assessment of a mid-career training initiative in environmental reporting reveals positive impacts on journalists' knowledge, reporting skills, and job satisfaction. Evaluation of a university journalism module on sustainability shows increases in students' understanding of the meaning and multidimensional nature of sustainability, and their appreciation of the need for enhancing public awareness through media coverage.
Second is the 'social responsibility approach' of media receptiveness towards a more responsible role in communicating these issues. An analysis of newspersons' views reveals partial support for this approach – although they were somewhat unreceptive to media environmental policies as a way of expressing social responsibility, they tended to be receptive towards an educative role. However, journalistic routines and norms may restrict an educative approach to news reporting.
Third is the 'message framing approach' of employing effective and persuasive communication strategies in the framing of mediated information to influence understanding and perception. An experimental assessment of an information campaign on 'sustainable consumption', designed based on this approach finds some increases in community understanding and concern; thus, illustrating the potentials of this approach.
Finally, drawing from the findings of the case studies and other observations in the literature the study identifies the interdependencies between the three approaches and the interconnected network of other influencing factors that are likely to determine their success – thus providing a clearer perspective of their viability in the real world.