Evolution of newspaper coverage of water issues in Australia during 1843–2011
- 472 Downloads
News accounts both reflect and influence public opinion through their noted ‘agenda-setting’ capability. We examined newspaper articles in Australia’s The Sydney Morning Herald from 1843 to 2011 to observe the evolution of media coverage on water issues related to water resources management. The results showed that water supply-related articles have dominated the reporting of water issues since 1843. This emphasis is reflected in the institutions involved and their related policy/management initiatives, as well as the themes of the articles. Extreme events such as flooding and drought have punctuated the historical record of reports on water issues. An economic development-driven tone was overwhelmingly predominant in newspaper articles (85 % of the total); however, there has been a marked decline in the importance of development-driven tone relative to environmental-sustainability oriented tone of articles since 1994. People from academia and NGOs were rarely quoted. Inclusion of wider range stakeholders should be considered as a strategic break-through and natural events should be considered as an “opportunity” to change public opinion on water issues for environmental sustainability.
KeywordsWater catchment management Murray–Darling Basin Media content analysis Newspaper coverage
This work was funded by the Australian Research Council (Project No: ARCDP120102917), the Natural Science Foundation of China (Project No: 91125007) and the Commonwealth of Australia under the Australia-China Science and Research Fund (Project No: ACSRF800).
- Alterman, E. 2010. What liberal media? The truth about bias and the news. Sacred Heart University Review 22: 2.Google Scholar
- Bagdikian, B.H. 2004. The new media monopoly. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
- Bennett, W.L., R.G. Lawrence, and S. Livingston. 2008. When the press fails: Political power and the news media from Iraq to Katrina. London: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Cook, T.E. 1998. Governing with the news: The news media as a political institution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Higuchi, K. 2004. Computer assisted quantitative analysis of newspaper articles. Sociological Theory and Methods 19: 161–176.Google Scholar
- Krippendorff, K. 2004. Content analysis—An introduction to its methodology. United States of America: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Lance, B.W. 1996. News: The politics of illusion. New York: Longman.Google Scholar
- Lawrence, R.G. 2000. The politics of force: Media and the construction of police brutality. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Lines, W.J. 1991. Taming the great south land: A history of the conquest of nature in Australia. North Sydney: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
- Mckay, J. 2005. Water institutional reforms in Australia. Water Policy 7: 35.Google Scholar
- Milly, P.C.D., J. Betancourt, M. Falkenmark, R.M. Hirsch, Z.W. Kundzewicz, D.P. Lettenmaier, and R.J. Stouffer. 2007. Stationarity is dead: Whither water management. Ground Water News & Views 4: 6–8.Google Scholar
- Murray Darling Basin Authority. 2013. Surface water in the basin. Retrieved Novermber 11, 2013 from http://www.mdba.gov.au/what-we-do/water-planning/surface-water-in-the-basin.
- Neuendorf, K. 2002. The content analysis guidebook. United States of America: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Poindexter, P.M. 2000. Research in mass communication: A practical guide. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.Google Scholar
- Riffe, D., S. Lacy, and F.G. Fico. 2006. Analyzing media messages: Using quantitative content analysis in research. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- The Sydney Morning Herald. 2014. The Sydney morning herald media kit 2014. Retrieved March 25, 2014 from http://adcentre.com.au/wp-content/uploads/SMH-Media-Kit.pdf.