Media representations of risk: the reporting of dredge spoil disposal in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park at Abbot Point

Lankester, Ally J., Bohensky, Erin, and Newlands, Maxine (2015) Media representations of risk: the reporting of dredge spoil disposal in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park at Abbot Point. Marine Policy, 60. pp. 149-161.

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The disposal of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park for port expansion at Abbot Point in North Queensland, Australia, has been a contentious issue receiving extensive media coverage. The media has played a key role in representing different risk perceptions, and potentially influencing policy decision-making. This paper identifies different perceptions of risk portrayed by local, regional, interstate and national print media in relation to the dredge spoil issue from January 2013 until February 2014. Media analysis explored the questions: how is 'risk' represented, who is linked to different risk perceptions, and how has the media coverage of the issue changed over time? Results show that 'risk' to the Great Barrier Reef from the dredge spoil was framed by four main themes: Environmental Disaster, Socio-economic Disaster, Equilibrium and Industrialism. Environmental Disaster was the most prominent overall, and often positioned in opposition to Industrialism. In January 2013 the dredge spoil issue was mainly covered by local sources and focused on risks to local livelihoods and environments. By February 2014 the issue was covered by sources throughout Australia and represented a range of risks to the GBR, and its World Heritage status, in relation to coal mining and port developments. Insights for communication from this analysis include the importance of using clear language that provides exact and solid examples of risks, especially in light of the media's agenda-setting power and with an issue that the general public does not have direct experience.

Item ID: 39325
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1872-9460
Keywords: Great Barrier Reef; dredging; risk; media; representation
Funders: Social and Economic Long Term Monitoring Program (SELTMP) , National Environmental Research Program (NERP)
Projects and Grants: NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub Project 4.2
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2015 05:54
FoR Codes: 19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1903 Journalism and Professional Writing > 190301 Journalism Studies @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950204 The Media @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9699 Other Environment > 969902 Marine Oceanic Processes (excl. Climate Related) @ 50%
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