What’s in the Water? How Media Coverage of Corporate GenX Pollution Shapes Local Understanding of Risk

Abstract

Media coverage of water pollution has been a topic of theoretical examination and empirical testing. Still, green criminologists have not fully explored issues relating to water pollution. This paper draws from the environmental literature on risk society and criminology’s crime news frame to explore media coverage of corporate deviance through the lens of green cultural criminology. A content analysis of local newspaper articles in a southeastern city analyzes constructions of corporate deviance, risk, and blame regarding the discovery of GenX. Results demonstrate how media discourse around risk and science plays an important role in shaping concerns about corporate environmental pollution. Magnification of risk and uncertainty draws the public’s attention to issues of regulatory enforcement and funding. At the same time, risk is minimized by corporate and regulatory officials who urge the public to wait for more research before introducing new laws and regulations while also individualizing the blame.

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Correspondence to Sarah Hupp Williamson.

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Hupp Williamson, S. What’s in the Water? How Media Coverage of Corporate GenX Pollution Shapes Local Understanding of Risk. Crit Crim 26, 289–305 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10612-018-9389-8

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