Community Structure and Science Framing of News About Local Environmental Risks

Document Type




Format of Original

23 p.

Publication Date



SAGE Publications

Source Publication

Science Communication

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1177/1075547097018004005


When newspapers cover stories about environmental pollution, the nature of the community they serve can indirectly influence the contents of that coverage. This article describes research showing that newspapers in pluralistic (i.e., usually larger) communities are more likely than papers in homogeneous (i.e., usually smaller) communities to interpret the pollution as a science story. Framing a pollution incident as a science story makes it more likely that the story will link the pollution to health effects, especially when (1) newspapers in pluralistic communities are dealing with a local polluter, and (2) newspapers in homogeneous communities are writing about pollution problems outside the community. These results are consistent with the Tichenor, Donohue, and Olien conflict/consensus model, which posits that the way power is distributed in a community affects the way that stories are selected and framed by local mass media.


Science Communication, Vol. 18, No. 4 (June 1997): 362-384. DOI.