Environmental Communication and Media: Centers, Programs and Resources

Communication@theCenterRonald E. Rice, Mark Meisner, Steve Depoe, Andy Opel, Connie Roser-Renouf, & Debika Shome “Environmental Communication and Media: Centers, Programs and Resources,” Chapter 11 in Communication @ the Center, ed. Steve Jones, pp.137-155. New York: Hampton Press, 2012.

Environmental issues are some of the most global, complex, and significant problems today. They threaten our quality of life, but they are politically polarized and characterized by hyperbole, disinformation, and public skepticism. The media can affect people’s perceptions of the environment (Ader, 1995; Besley & Shanahan, 2004; Corbett & Durfee, 2004; O’Donnell & Rice, 2008) given that many Americans live in urban settings with little direct experience of the outdoors. Media in the broadest sense of the term-including books, magazines, films, television, news, Internet websites, videogames, and podcasts-are for many people a major source of environmental information. Moreover, media appear to play an important role in winning public support for environmental movements (Brulle & Jenkins, 2008). The media’s role as attitude changer is particularly important within the context of contemporary environmental problems, which are perceived to be both abstract and distant (whether in place or time) by many Americans. Public reaction to environmental news also has the indirect effect of generating additional news, hus raising the agenda even more and therefore influencing politicians and policy makers (Dasgupta, Laplante, & Meisner, 2000)….

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