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The analysis of environmental information: a study of the dissemination, mediation and interpretation of news.

Campbell, Fiona Catherine Brown


Fiona Catherine Brown Campbell


C. Stuart Hannabuss

Dorothy Williams

Alistair McCulloch

Seaton Baxter


The project arose out of the fact that information changes as journalists gather, interpret and disseminate environmental information. A model was developed describing the flow of environmental information in the media, which shows that journalists retrieve information from a complex range of sources before repackaging it into an apparently simplified format. The preliminary stage of this model was enhanced to a secondary level by the data elicited from interviewing journalists, media librarians and scientific personnel. This depicted the news process within a specific reporting context, showing the sources (e.g. specialists, libraries, environmental groups) that journalists consult, and the methods that they use to construct the news. A case study of the Braer oil spill (Appendix VI) has been included, in which an in-depth examination of the newspaper coverage was carried out. Qualitative methods used at this stage (the macro level) include semi-structured interviewing, observation and various content analysis techniques. From this work, it emerged that journalists use "taken-for-granted", routinised procedures in the news process. The research aimed to investigate the news process, i.e. at a micro level, implicit in which are the constructional and interpretive methods that Scottish journalists use to create environmental news. It was the primary intention of the work to reveal the ways in which reporters routinise their work procedures and how they apply the "rules" implicit in them. During the course of the research, the sources of these rules were identified as: academic training, on-site experience and professional roles. The project has examined the techniques used by journalists to evaluate news potential in environmental issues, the practices used to gather information, the sources that journalists select, and the storage of information in libraries. The method implemented in the micro analysis evolved from the work on the Braer case study and was conducted using techniques of ethnomethodology. These were tailored specifically to Scottish journalism and the environment. Tri-lateral discourse sessions (i.e. the researcher and respondents interact in and through the text) were carried out, where respondents analysed five different environmental cases. Respondents revealed the step-by-step procedures involved in the approach to, researching of and construction of news. From these data, the researcher identified a core of rules or procedures that journalists use. Working within the model of the news process, the research aimed to demonstrate how journalists actually undertake the construction of news by examining their "taken-for-granted" assumptions. The work aims to make a valid contribution to knowledge in that it extends previous research carried out in the field, and both the context and method are original in their development.


CAMPBELL, F.C.B. 1996. The analysis of environmental information: a study of the dissemination, mediation and interpretation of news. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis. Hosted on OpenAIR [online]. Available from:

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jun 17, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jun 17, 2022
Keywords Journalism; News reporting; Environmental news; Environmental information; Information literacy
Public URL
Award Date Dec 31, 1996


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