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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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8 Online Media, Flak and Local Environmental Politics: Kitty Van Vuuren


The Internet and online social media are increasingly a standard component of the tactical inventory of environmental movements and have vastly improved their organizational and advocacy capacities, as well as brought local issues to the attention of national and global audiences. Hutchins and Lester (2011), however, point out that protest actions are often short-lived and are primarily directed at gaining mainstream media coverage in an effort to influence public opinion. Their focus is on activists and NGOs such as Greenpeace who employ mobile media technology in their direct action campaigns. This chapter is more concerned with the section of the environmental movement described by Jonathon Porritt (1984: 6) as the “politically oriented greens”, pointing to the close relationship between civil society and an emergent green political sphere. Indeed, out of the protests in 1971 against the flooding of Lake Pedder by Tasmania’s Hydro-Electric Commission emerged the forerunners of today’s Australian Greens, as well as the Wilderness Society, a national NGO that worked closely together throughout the 1970s on conservation issues (Brown and Singer, 1996). Similarly, Jo Vallentine, a long-time peace activist regarded as Australia’s first green federal politician, ran for the Nuclear Disarmament Party in Western Australia and entered the Australian Senate in 1985.

Australian political parties and interest groups first took their campaigns online during the 2007 federal election, but the electorate’s use of online media fell short of expectations (Gibson and Cantijoch, 2011: 5; Young, 2011). By 2010 about eight mil ← 125 | 126 → lion Australians used...

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