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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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11 Greening Wildlife Documentary: Morgan Richards

Extract

The loss of wilderness is a truth so sad, so overwhelming that, to reflect reality, it would need to be the subject of every wildlife film. That, of course, would be neither entertaining nor ultimately dramatic. So it seems that as filmmakers we are doomed either to fail our audience or fail our cause.

— Stephen Mills (1997)

 

 

Five years before the BBC’s Frozen Planet was first broadcast in 2011, Sir David Attenborough publicly announced his belief in human-induced global warming. “My message is that the world is warming, and that it’s our fault,” he declared on the BBC’s Ten o’Clock News in May 2006. This was the first statement, both in the media and in his numerous wildlife series, in which he didn’t hedge his opinion, choosing to focus on slowly accruing scientific data rather than ruling definitively on the causes and likely environmental impacts of climate change. Frozen Planet, a seven-part landmark documentary series produced by the BBC Natural History Unit and largely co-financed by the Discovery Channel, was heralded by many as Attenborough’s definitive take on climate change. It followed a string of big budget, multi-part wildlife documentaries, known in the industry as landmarks,1 which broke with convention to incorporate narratives on complex environmental issues such as habitat destruction, species extinction and atmospheric pollution. David ← 171 | 172 → Attenborough’s The State of the Planet (2000), a smaller three-part series, was the first wildlife documentary to deal comprehensively with environmental issues...

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