The Effects of Community Pluralism on Press Coverage of Health Risks from Local Environmental Contamination
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Based on the conflict/consensus model of Tichenor, Donohue and Olien, we proposed that mass mediated information signalling that local agents are contaminating the local environment and posing health risks is conflict-generating information and, therefore, will be controlled in the interest of community stability. We expected such control to vary by community structure. A content analysis of nine months of coverage by 19 newspapers supported the hypothesis that papers in more pluralistic communities were more likely than papers in less pluralistic communities to link contamination from local agents to threats to human health in the community and to frame such stories as problems. Newspapers in less pluralistic communities were more likely to frame local contamination in the context of solutions to the problem and were more likely to link contamination to health risks if the contamination were in a distant community.