Publication Details

Communicating with the Public about Emerald Ash Borer: Militaristic and Fatalistic Framings in the News Media

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Clarke, Mysha K.; Roman, Lara A.; Conway, Tenley M.

Year Published

2020

Publication

Sustainability

Abstract

Invasive species can spread to new landscapes through various anthropogenic factors and negatively impact urban ecosystems, societies, and economies. Public awareness is considered central to mitigating the spread of invasive species. News media contributes to awareness although it is unclear what messages are being communicated. We incorporated Frame Theory to investigate newspapers' coverage of the emerald ash borer (EAB; Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire (Coleoptera: Buprestidae)), which has killed millions of ash trees in the continental United States. We conducted a content analysis of 924 news articles published between 2002 and 2017 to examine language framing (how a phenomenon like invasive species is constructed and communicated), information sources, management methods, recommended actions for the public and whether this communication changed overtime. Seventy-seven percent of articles used language evocative of distinctive risk framings, with the majority of these using negative attribute frames like invasion-militaristic and/or fatalistic language to describe EAB management. Few discussed positive impacts like galvanizing public support. Most articles used expert sources, primarily government agents. We recommend that public communications regarding invasive species be cautious about language evoking militarism and fatalism. Furthermore, invasive species communication requires a broader diversity and representation of voices because invasive species management requires community effort.

Keywords

content analysis; framing; Frame Theory; urban forests; militaristic metaphors; conservation communication; invasive species

Citation

Clarke, Mysha K.; Roman, Lara A.; Conway, Tenley M. 2020. Communicating with the Public about Emerald Ash Borer: Militaristic and Fatalistic Framings in the News Media. Sustainability. 12(11): 4560. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114560.

Last updated on: June 5, 2020