Last Updated: 25 Apr 2017: 13:21 hrs
Michael Maher: How and Why Journalists Avoid Population Environment Connection
Recent surveys show that Americans are less concerned about population than they were 25 years ago, and they aren’t connecting environmental degradation to population growth. News coverage is a significant variable affecting public opinion, and how reporters frame a problem frequently signals what is causing the problem. Using a random sample of 150 stories about urban sprawl, endangered species and water shortages, Part I of this study shows that only about one story in 10 framed population growth as a source of the problem. Further, only one story in the entire sample mentioned population stability among the realm of possible solutions. Part II presents the results of interviews with 25 journalists whose stories on local environmental problems omitted the causal role of population growth. It shows that journalists are aware of the controversial nature of the population issue, and prefer to avoid it if possible. Most interviewees said that a national phenomenon like population growth as beyond the scope of what they could write as local reporters.
In How and Why Journalists Avoid the Population-Environment Connection, Prof.
Michael Maher states that How Do Journalists Think?; “offer a cognitive psychology model
that suggests that journalists construct hypotheses in pursuing news stories, but that reporters tend to indulge in a host of causal attribution errors. Among these are the tendency to oversimplify, to prefer anecdotal information over more valid statistical information, and the “fundamental attribution error” —the “tendency to weigh personal causal variables more than situational variables” (p.47). Since population growth is a situational force, this model suggests why journalists might attribute urban sprawl to developers rather than to population growth.
“The shallowness of media coverage has attracted scholarly comment as early as Lippmann
(1922), who pointed out that journalists must deal in stereotypes because of deadline pressures and readers’ preference for simplicity. Many other scholars have commented on the shallow, episodic nature of the news. “The news we are given is not fit for a democracy; it is superficial, narrow, stereotypical, propaganda-laden, of little explanatory value, and not geared for critical debate or citizen action,” Bennett (1988, p. 9) wrote. Linsky (1988) noted, “The event-orientation of news is a particular problem, for it steers coverage away from ideas and context and does nothing to encourage the drawing of connections between stories” (p. 216).
Entman (1989) identified three production biases common to media stories: 1. simplification —audiences prefer the simple to the complex; 2. personalization —individuals cause events rather than institutional, historical or other abstract forces; 3. symbolization — audiences want dramatic action, intriguing personality, and stirring slogans, and the media
provide them. Bennett (1988) offered a similar list of weaknesses in media content: emphasis on people rather than process, and on crisis rather than continuity; isolation of stories from each other, and official assurances of normalcy.
“In sum, many existing theories can explain the consistent tendency by journalists to avoid
mentioning population growth as a source of the problems they cover. Without further evidence, we really cannot tell. Graber has called for more study on the etiology of content: “Why are particular events selected from the large number of events that might be publicized and why are events cast into particular story frames that supply the interpretive background by which the story is judged?” (1989, p. 146).
Dr. Michael Maher concludes his How and Why Journalists Avoid the Population-
Environment Connection study as follows: “As we have seen, both land development
economists and environmental experts acknowledge population growth as a key source of environmental change. But journalists frame environmental causality differently. “Why? Communication theory offers several possibilities. First is the hegemony-theory interpretation: reporters omit any implication that population growth might produce negative effects, in order to purvey the ideology of elites who make money from population growth. As Molotch and Lester (1974) put it, media content can be viewed as reflecting “the practices of those having the power to determine the experience of others” (p. 120). Since real estate, construction and banking interests directly support the media through advertising purchases, this interpretation seems plausible. A number of media critics (e.g., Gandy, 1982; Altschull, 1984; Bennett, 1988) have suggested that media messages reflect the values of powerful political and commercial interests. Burd (1972), Kaniss (1991) and others have pointed out that newspapers have traditionally promoted population growth in their cities through civic boosterism. Molotch (1976) even suggested that cities can best be understood as entities competing for population growth, with the city newspaper as chief cheerleader.
“Certainly most reporters would be incensed at the suggestion that they shade their reporting to placate commercial interests. But Breed’s classic study of social control in the newsroom (1955) showed that news managers’ values are transmissible to journalists through a variety of pressures: salaries, story assignments, layout treatment, editing, and a variety of other strategies that effectively shape news stories in ways acceptable to management.
“Another possible explanation for why journalists omit population growth from their story
frame is simple ignorance of other explanations. Journalists who cover environmental issues
may not be aware of any other possible ways to frame these stories, thus they derive their
framing from other journalists. Journalists frequently read each other’s work and take cues for coverage from other reporters, particularly from the elite media (Reese & Danielian, 1989).
Perhaps the pervasive predictability of the story frames examined in Part I is another example of intermedia influence. On the other hand, it seems difficult to believe that journalists could be ignorant of the role population growth plays in environmental issues, because media coverage frequently ties population growth to housing starts and business expansion. Furthermore, “Why” is one of the five “W’s” taught in every Journalism 101 course. A public affairs reporting textbook, Interpreting Public Issues (Griffin, Molen, Schoenfeld, & Scotton, 1991), admonishes journalists: “A common journalistic mistake is simply to cover events—real or staged—and ignore underlying issues” (p. 320). The book identified population trends as one of the “big trouble spots,” and listed world population as the first of its “forefront issues in the ’90s” (p. 320). Hence, we cannot say that reporting basic causality is beyond the role that journalists ascribe for themselves. Indeed a panel at the 1994 Society of Environmental Journalists discussed “Covering Population as a Local Story” (Wheeler, 1994).
But ignorance remains a possible reason, for not all reporters have training in environmental issues. “A third possible explanation comes from the “spiral of silence” theory by German scholar Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann (1984): “The fear of isolation seems to be the force that sets the spiral of silence in motion. To run with the pack is a relatively happy state of affairs; but if you can’t, because you won’t share publicly in what seems to be a universally acclaimed conviction, you can at least remain silent, as a second choice, so that others can put up with you. “According to Noelle-Neumann, “the media influence the individual perception of what can be said or done without danger of isolation”. Media coverage legitimates a given perspective. Lack of media coverage—omitting a perspective consistently from media stories—makes the expression of that perspective socially dangerous. Noelle-Neumann also suggested that the media serve an articulation function: “The media provide people with the words and phrases they can use to defend a point of view. If people find no current, frequently repeated expressions for their point of view, they lapse into silence; they become effectively mute”.
» Minnesotans for Sustainability: How and Why Journalists Avoid the Population Environment Connection. [archive.is/Syl4O]
Dr Michael Maher SA Constitutional Court Affidavit
Written Statement by Consent of T. Michael Maher, Ph.D, to testify as expert witness for How and Why Journalists Avoid the Population-Environment Connection and Media Framing and Salience of the Population Issue [PDF]; in support of Amicus Curiae Brief of Lara Johnstone, Member of Radical Honesty Culture & Religion, in Support of a Common Sense Population Policy Social Contract Interpretation of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act, 34 of 1995 [PDF]; in the matter before the South African Constitutional Court: The Citizen v Robert McBride.
» EoP Leg Sub: CCT 23-10: The Citizen v Robert McBride.
Re: LJ Former Radical Honesty Cultural Membership:
Ecology of Peace Radical Honoursty culture: 17 Oct 2013 to Present: As of 17 October 2013, Lara Johnstone is a member of the Ecology of Peace: Radical Honoursty culture.
» LJ v Brad Blanton.
Michael Maher Study shared with ‘Conflict & Disclosure’ Media
Cant end WiP War Economy with Fake Peace POTUS, citizens & media.
— EoP MILED Clerk (@EoPMiledClerk) March 26, 2017
Exponential Growth Lily Riddle:
White Refugees: [www.kaffir-lily-riddle.co.nr]: Understanding Masculine Insecurity Poverty Pimping: Population Production of Poverty & Violence Breeding Wars; World Pop. Balance: Understanding Exponential Growth: Bacteria in a Bottle; Al Bartlett: Arithmetic, Population & Energy; Garret Hardin: Growth: Real and Spurious: Chapter 8 of Living within Limits: Ecology, Economics and Population Taboos; University of Woolongong Australia.
Putins Warning to Media
June 2016 St Petersburg International Economic Forum: Putin urged journalists to report genuinely on the impending danger that is a nuclear arms race.
» Putins Warning.
If it Bleeds it Leads
“For revolutionary groups, the more murderous the deed, the more certain the media coverage.” — Nicholas Partridge, Presenter of documentary, ANC: VIP’s of Violence.
“Media bosses are often holier than thou about the important role the media play in our democracy, arguing that they fulfil a vital function to keep the public informed and to help create active citizens that are empowered to make proper decisions on who to vote for and what to think and believe. Sadly they often do not do their job properly because they want to make fat profits in the short term. Who cares about educating readers to become more intelligent and informed consumers of news and opinion in the long run if one can make a quick buck?.” – Pierre de Vos, Anti-intellectual South Africa deserves the media it has.
“The news – whether printed, online, or broadcast on television or radio – is full of violence. Just pick up any newspaper or tune in to any news program. You’ll learn what horrible acts have occurred worldwide. The saying “If it bleeds, it leads” shows the importance that the news media place on stories that include violence and explains that they lead off their programs with violent stories because they’re shocking and extraordinary. Reporters hope to gain people’s attention because they want more people to read or watch their news program. This means more advertising dollars for them.” — Violence in the News
“The inescapable conclusion is that society secretly wants crime, needs crime, and gains definite satisfactions from the present mishandling of it. We condemn crime; we punish offenders for it; but we need it. The crime and punishment ritual is a part of our lives. We need crimes to wonder at, to enjoy vicariously, to discuss and speculate about, and to publicly deplore. We need criminals to identify ourselves with, to envy secretly, and to punish stoutly. They do for us the forbidden, illegal things we wish to do and, like scapegoats of old, they bear the burdens of our displaced guilt and punishment — “the iniquities of us all”.” — Dr. Karl Menninger, in The Crime of Punishment (p181)
“Delancey Street is an incredible mixture of pure idealism and hard practicality. It is the best and the most successful [rehabilitation] organization I have studied in the world” —Dr. Karl Menninger
According to Mathew Kerbel, the author of If It Bleads, It Leads, a fundamental rule of
television is: “It is a pretend medium.” He refers to how journalists love stock phrases, and
asserts that television news adopted their news reporting formulae from the Jerry Springer
handbook, to titilate their viewers with confrontation and violence; with very little interest in
thoughtful analysis. They prefer brevity, simplicity and shock value to depth, to explaining
complexity and finding sincere resolutions to problems.
According to Noam Chomsky’s Propaganda Model of News, the corporate-owned news
mass communication media — print, radio, television — are businesses subject to commercial
competition for advertising revenue and profit. As such, their distortion (editorial bias) of news reportage — i.e. what types of news, which items, and how they are reported — is
consequence of the profit motive that requires establishing a stable, profitable business;
therefore, news businesses favoring profit over the public interest succeed, while those favoring reportorial accuracy over profits fail, and are relegated to the margins of their markets (low sales and ratings).
Ecology of Peace v Masonic War is Peace Media
Ecology of Peace Media — like EoP law, religion, charity, psychology, academia, etc — is founded upon EoP Radical Honoursty Factual Reality; providing advocacy and information on how to cooperate to shut down the WiP Ponzi profiteering of resource conflict and misery economy, by turning off the tap; — i.e. the breeding / consumption above ecological carrying capacity limits — causes of — racial, religious, economic, ideological, political, psychological, academic, media, military, etc — resource conflict and war; by implementing an EoP international law social contract that requires all the worlds citizens of all races, religions and ideologies to breed and consume below ecological carrying capacity limits.
Masonic War is Peace media — like WiP law, religion, charity, psychology, academia, etc — consciously or unconsciously ignores or avoids educating their readers, customers, clients, etc of the — procreation and consumption above ecological carrying capacity limits; enabled by the WiP right to procreate and consume above ecological carrying capacity limits clauses of international law — root causes of all — racial, religious, economic, ideological, political, psychological, academic, media, military, etc — resource conflict; enabling them to socio-politically, economically, etc profit from the racial, religious and class resource war conflict misery, resulting from overpopulation/consumption colliding with finite resources.