Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Sociology

Abstract

This study focuses on the public's reactions to media coverage and government actions in light of the BP oil spill of 2010. As part of this study, a set of ancillary questions regarding how the media frame news stories and the dynamics behind media influence on government actions are also explored. An analysis was performed, which consisted of analysing comments on the internet, letters to the editor and opinion pieces to see what they had to say about the media coverage and government response. Four codes were established in order of frequency: exposing worse realities, moderating messages, effects mitigation and humorous diffusion. The findings show that exposing worse realities was the most common code, and suggest that those closer to environmental disasters are better aware of the magnitude of such a disaster, and that these disasters are often tied to institutional causes. Media framing of disasters plays a role, albeit a small one, in how the public and government come to see a disaster, and media's interactions with the government show that they can be a key figure in shaping government responses to an environmental calamity.

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