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Fanning the Blame: Media Accountability, Climate and Crisis on the Australian “Fire Continent”

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Deb Anderson
Phil Chubb
Monika Djerf-Pierre
Publicerad i Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture
Volym 12
Nummer/häfte 7
Sidor 928-941
ISSN 1752-4032
Publiceringsår 2018
Publicerad vid Institutionen för journalistik, medier och kommunikation (JMG)
Sidor 928-941
Språk en
Länkar doi.org/10.1080/17524032.2018.14240...
Ämnesord climate change, news media, Australia, bush fires, Black Saturday, crisis communication,
Ämneskategorier Medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap


This paper raises questions of media coverage of “compounded crises” related to extreme weather disaster, in the context of urgent calls to address the implications of a changing climate. Through media analysis, it examines the ways debate over bushfire protection policy was framed and made culturally meaningful, thereby politically consequential, in the wake of the worst bushfires in modern Australian history, Black Saturday (2009). The fires, in which 173 people died, led to a Royal Commission and fierce debate over the use of prescribed burning to reduce bushfire hazard. Longitudinal analysis of local, state and national mainstream media coverage (2009–2016) reveals blame games that targeted environmentalists and the government, which near-silenced meaningful discussion of the complexity of fire science, impacts of climate change on weather conditions, and calls for adaptation. By exploring the media’s constitutive role in crisis response, the paper highlights the legacy and potency of ideological conflict that shapes the media-policy nexus in Australia.

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