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Environmental Conflict and the Media

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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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4 Clear Cuts on Clearcutting: YouTube, Activist Videos and Narrative Strategies: Catherine Collins

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In a seminal essay on the competing information campaigns about old growth forest extraction in the United States’ Pacific Northwest, Jonathan Lange (1993) demonstrated that what was regarded as acceptable policy really depended on the values and worldviews of the competing interest groups. Environmentalists and timber workers were seldom engaged in face-to-face meetings; their information campaigns were carried out instead in the media. New technologies—especially social media—offer a way of reaching potentially large audiences. They also have the advantage of allowing opposing sides to control the message that reflects their interpretation of facts, values, and acceptable policy alternatives with less mediation by reporters and journalistic gatekeepers. One would reasonably expect that the messages disseminated through social media would reflect the iconic story of the authors of these messages. If one values a pristine wilderness over economic values, the audience would expect to discover in the narrative appeals to preservation and an articulation of the non-economic worth of the forest. I am interested in how the debate over old-growth extraction policy is engaged through the medium of YouTube, how this medium encourages groups to tell their stories through images and commentary, and how narrative strategies may compete against each other in such a way that there is little possibility of dialogue. ← 61 | 62 →

Debate is always about a clash, but the kinds of propositions that are debated change the arguments that are advanced and the relations between opposing sides. Propositions of fact—whether something is or is...

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