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Environmental Conflict and the Media


Edited By Libby Lester and Brett Hutchins

Has the hype associated with the «revolutionary» potential of the World Wide Web and digital media for environmental activism been muted by the past two decades of lived experience? What are the empirical realities of the prevailing media landscape?
Using a range of related disciplinary perspectives, the contributors to this book analyze and explain the complicated relationship between environmental conflict and the media. They shine light on why media are central to historical and contemporary conceptions of power and politics in the context of local, national and global issues and outline the emerging mixture of innovation and reliance on established strategies in environmental campaigns.
With cases drawn from different sections of the globe – Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Europe, Latin America, China, Japan, the Pacific Islands, Africa – the book demonstrates how conflicts emanate from and flow across multiple sites, regions and media platforms and examines the role of the media in helping to structure collective discussion, debate and decision-making.
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2 Campaigning Journalism: The Early Press, Environmental Advocacy and National Parks: Michael Meadows and Robert Thomson


Ideas about the environment, mountains and their varied relationships with people began to creep into colonial Australia through stories published in the local press as the settlements expanded. A marked increase in the frequency of mountain wilderness imagery—writings, drawings and increasingly, photographs—is an important characteristic of the development of the 20th-century Australian press, at least until World War II. Something had drawn people’s attention to high places as never before, the result of a range of often competing and contradictory discourses, including Aboriginal creation myths, a unique landscape, the influence of European ideas of landscape and leisure, and charismatic local individuals with a passion for the environment.

In this chapter, we will consider this process through two case studies. The first, drawn from the 1890s, investigates the appearance of arguably the first comprehensive collection of journalism focussed on the Australian environment. Written by explorer-journalist-politician Archibald Meston, a series of feature articles published in the iconic weekly magazine the Queenslander reveal ways of framing landscape and the environment that challenged the then predominant images of a “wide brown land” and prevailing ideas of economic development. The second example is from the 1920s and 1930s and has parallels with the North American experience of the ← 37 | 38 → founding of national parks. It explores the role of the Queenslander and its successors in southeast Queensland in publishing images and stories of wilderness that, we will argue, played an important role in the national parks movement in Queensland.

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