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Environmental Concern, Patterns of Television Viewing, and Pro-Environmental Behaviors
Unformatted Document Text:  TV-Environment 5 those media organizations in more pluralistic communities are more likely to provide explicit details concerning “threats to human health” (p. 380). There has also been considerable research focusing on how reporters cover environmental issues. In particular, researchers have focused on what drives coverage of certain environmental issues or incidents by news organizations (e.g., Krimsky & Plough, 1988). Several studies have found that journalists tend to cover specific, dramatic environmental events, most often those with negative consequences; stories about the risks associated with on-going environmental public policy debates or particular individual-level environmental behaviors receive substantially less coverage. This particular area of study has focused most often on television. Several studies find that the coverage of major environmental events often fails to provide adequate scientific detail to place the risks of the event in their proper context, leading some scholars to conclude that television news coverage of the environment is often “more influenced by the dramatic value of a story than by the actual inherent risk in a story” (Shanahan & McComas, 1997, p. 149; see also Barton, 1988; Gorney, 1992; Greenberg, Sachsman, Sandman, & Salomone, 1989). On the effects side of the news-environment relationship, there have been several agenda setting studies performed to date (e.g., Ader, 1995; Atwater, Salwen, & Anderson, 1985). Ader (1995) finds that news attention to pollution influenced public salience about the issue. Atwater et al. (1985) conclude that “when individuals say environmental subissues are personally important to them, those judgments are not made independent of perceptions of media representations” (p. 397). In addition, Brother, Fortner, and Mayer (1991) find a relationship between television news coverage of the environment and individual-level knowledge of environmental issues. In short, there is a strong relationship between coverage of environmental issues by news organizations and individual-level knowledge and attitudes about this subject matter. Particularly important for this study, research by McLeod, Glynn, and Griffin (1987) found public affairs media use was a strong predictor of environmental issue salience, but that the effects of this type of media use had less of an impact on environmental behaviors. In addition to the study of general public affairs media use, McLeod et al. also studied the influence of environment-specific media use, and found once again that this type of media use yielded a strong positive relationship with environmental issue salience but not on actual behaviors. More recently, Krendl, Olson, and Burke (1992) found in their study of the role of media in a broader environmental campaign that forms of mass communication can have a direct positive effect on environmental behaviors.

Authors: Holbert, R. Lance., Kwak, Nojin. and Shah, Dhavan.
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TV-Environment 5
those media organizations in more pluralistic communities are more likely to provide explicit details concerning
“threats to human health” (p. 380).
There has also been considerable research focusing on how reporters cover environmental issues. In
particular, researchers have focused on what drives coverage of certain environmental issues or incidents by news
organizations (e.g., Krimsky & Plough, 1988). Several studies have found that journalists tend to cover specific,
dramatic environmental events, most often those with negative consequences; stories about the risks associated with
on-going environmental public policy debates or particular individual-level environmental behaviors receive
substantially less coverage. This particular area of study has focused most often on television. Several studies find
that the coverage of major environmental events often fails to provide adequate scientific detail to place the risks of
the event in their proper context, leading some scholars to conclude that television news coverage of the
environment is often “more influenced by the dramatic value of a story than by the actual inherent risk in a story”
(Shanahan & McComas, 1997, p. 149; see also Barton, 1988; Gorney, 1992; Greenberg, Sachsman, Sandman, &
Salomone, 1989).
On the effects side of the news-environment relationship, there have been several agenda setting studies
performed to date (e.g., Ader, 1995; Atwater, Salwen, & Anderson, 1985). Ader (1995) finds that news attention to
pollution influenced public salience about the issue. Atwater et al. (1985) conclude that “when individuals say
environmental subissues are personally important to them, those judgments are not made independent of perceptions
of media representations” (p. 397). In addition, Brother, Fortner, and Mayer (1991) find a relationship between
television news coverage of the environment and individual-level knowledge of environmental issues. In short,
there is a strong relationship between coverage of environmental issues by news organizations and individual-level
knowledge and attitudes about this subject matter.
Particularly important for this study, research by McLeod, Glynn, and Griffin (1987) found public affairs
media use was a strong predictor of environmental issue salience, but that the effects of this type of media use had
less of an impact on environmental behaviors. In addition to the study of general public affairs media use, McLeod
et al. also studied the influence of environment-specific media use, and found once again that this type of media use
yielded a strong positive relationship with environmental issue salience but not on actual behaviors. More recently,
Krendl, Olson, and Burke (1992) found in their study of the role of media in a broader environmental campaign that
forms of mass communication can have a direct positive effect on environmental behaviors.


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