New Issue of Environmental Communication Out Now!

Alison Anderson's picture
Welcome to the first issue of Volume 8. Environmental Communication: A Journal of Culture and Nature was first established in May 2007 and under the outstanding leadership of founding Editor, Steve Depoe, it has gone from strength to strength. Now in its eighth year it is a flagship journal in the environmental communication field, there is strong international representation on the Editorial Board, and it is the official journal of the International Environmental Communication Association (IECA). The journal is interdisciplinary in scope and the Editorial Board includes recognized scholars in—media and communication studies, psychology, political science, human geography and literature—to name but a few disciplinary fields.
My goal as incoming Editor is to build on the journal's existing strengths to further its impact and reach. Starting with this volume, the journal will lose its subtitle to become Environmental Communication which reflects the broad and now firmly established nature of this area of scholarship. There will be a new Book Reviews section managed by Chris Russill, which we hope will enable readers to keep more abreast of new books in the field. Alongside this, we still welcome occasional extended forum/commentary pieces that stimulate debate or reflect in novel ways on current trends within the field. Also supplementary images may be submitted alongside manuscripts and published online, providing a great opportunity to add an extra dimension to regular articles. Alongside regular articles, we will continue to publish occasional special issues on new avenues of research and topical debates. To this end, a number of special issues on key debates are already in the pipeline, including one on “Media Research on Climate Change: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Heading?” and another on “Climate Change Communication & the Internet: Challenges and Opportunities for Research.”
This issue comprises a range of pieces examining processes of environmental communication and illustrating a range of different approaches, methods, and academic traditions. Chad Wickman in “Rhetorical Framing in Corporate Press Releases: The Case of British Petroleum and the Gulf Oil Spill” examines how BP sought to use press releases to frame the Gulf spill over time and reinforce a narrative in which the company could highlight positive actions and outcomes but downplay its role in the incident itself.
Paul Brewer, David Wise, and Barbara Ley in “Chemical Controversy: Canadian and US News Coverage of the Scientific Debate about Bisphenol A” examine the role of newspapers in framing the scientific controversy over the effects of exposure to BPA used in baby bottles and cups. They compare coverage in two elite newspapers in Canada and in the USA. Across the four newspapers they find that coverage tends to emphasize the argument that BPA constitutes a health threat with only the degree of emphasis differing across the different titles.
In a similar vein, constructions of health and sustainability are the focus of Dominic Yeo's article entitled “Negotiating Virtue and Vice: Articulations of Lay Conceptions of Health and Sustainability in Social Media Conversations around Natural Beverages.” Using netnography, Yeo examines consumer–consumer social media communications about two soft drink products that are marketed as healthy and environmentally sustainable—Naked Juice and Innocent Smoothies. He finds that when consumers ascribe virtuousness to the two products they tend to romanticize them and attribute to them additional unsubstantiated traits or scientifically questionable benefits.
Vincent Campbell in “Framing Environmental Risks and Natural Disasters in Factual Entertainment Television” analyses the ways in which factual entertainment television programs of the early 2000s depicted natural disasters and environmental risks. Campbell concludes that the emphasis on visual spectacle concentrating on disaster impact imagery was rarely accompanied by accounts that link disasters to human agency.
Natasha Seegert in “Queer Beasts: Ursine Punctures in Domesticity” provides a critical visual analysis of responses to Bruno the Bear—the European Brown Bear that attracted international news media attention in 2006 and was shot, taxidermied, and put on display. Seegert shows how Bruno became an imaginary wild and disrupted anthropogenic boundaries about what is normal.
The final two articles focus on environmental behavior. Johan Östman in “The Influence of Media Use on Environmental Engagement: A Political Socialization Approach” performs a multivariate analysis of survey data from Swedish adolescents. He highlights direct, in addition to indirect, relationships between pro-environmental behavior and their news media use and interaction with family and peer group members.
Last, but by no means least, Rusi Jaspal, Brigitte Nerlich, and Marco Cinnirella in “Human Responses to Climate Change: Social Representation, Identity and Socio-psychological Action” call for an integrated social science approach to better understand the linkages between identity processes and how we process social representations of climate change.
Alison Anderson