Framing Efficacy Upstream and Downstream: Examining Efficacy Media Frames in Relation to Distributed Water Pollution Risks
This study adds to the research on frame building by examining a previously un-investigated factor: distributed environmental risk affordances. Affordances are behavioral opportunities given the features of an environmental context. We use a content analysis to investigate how one such context, distributed water pollution risks, influences media frames in newspaper articles. Using newspaper stories about water issues in the agricultural Midwest over a two-year period, we show that newspapers in upstream communities use media frames with a mitigation focus, while downstream communities that must respond to cumulatively high water pollution levels use media frames with a response focus. This has implications for our understanding of how distributed environmental risk affordances affect media frames and subsequent risk perceptions.
Key Words: distributed environmental risk; media frames; frame building; affordances; efficacy; construal level theory