Publication Details

Voyer, M., Dreher, T., Gladstone, W. & Goodall, H. (2013). Who cares wins: The role of local news and news sources in influencing community responses to marine protected areas. Ocean and Coastal Management, 85 (Part A), 29-38.


Mass media is a key tool by which environmental interventions, such as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are communicated to the public. The way in which local news outlets present and explain MPAs to local communities is likely to be influential in determining how they respond to the proposal. In particular the tendency of news media to focus on areas of conflict and dispute ensures ideology and politics play a central role in reporting of MPA proposals, often simplifying debate into an 'us versus them' or 'fishers versus conservationists' ideological conflict. This can lead to the outright rejection of an MPA or undermine acceptance of the park within local communities. The media coverage of two marine parks in NSW, Australia was compared to determine the way in which news presented the parks to each community and how this may have influenced public acceptance of the parks. In particular the study examined the role ideology and politics played in the news coverage of each park by investigating the way in which the news was framed and the positions of key media spokespeople. Media coverage of the Batemans Marine Park appears to have been highly politicised and heavily influenced by the strong convictions of a small handful of prominent spokespeople. By way of contrast media coverage of the Port Stephens Great Lakes Marine Park was more nuanced and drew from a wide range of sources. This research provides insight into how areas of conflict could be reframed as opportunities that enhance MPA planning exercises and highlights how ideology can help shape community sentiment. Acknowledging the role of ideology in contested areas such as these allows for the development of strategies that can accommodate as well as moderate its influence. These strategies may include the incorporation of 'bottom up' approaches into MPA planning, the promotion and support of a range of voices within the community, and seeking out and building upon common ground and shared values.



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