Presenting a complicated environmental issue to the public : how different newspapers report the SuHua freeway issue in Taiwan

University essay from SLU/Dept. of Urban and Rural Development

Abstract: The SuHua Freeway issue is one of the most well-known and complicated environmental issues in Taiwan. Many stakeholders engaged into this issue and the mass media has made many news stories to represent opinions and arguments from both pro- and against- freeway sides, especially newspapers. Different newspapers due to their specific characters, for example, target readers, mission and finance, may use different ways represent the same story, and influence how the public (readers) understand the issue. This study aims to investigate how newspapers with different characters represent this complicated SuHua freeway issue, then using media production theory to explain why the news report like this way, and how these news will influence the public’s understanding of the freeway issue. I chose three newspapers (China Times, Lihpao Daily, KSDN) which with different target readers and mission and using content analysis analyzed the news coverage about the SuHua freeway issue between January 2007 to May 2008. In the end I found six dominant arguments of the freeway issue in the three newspapers- the freeway is the only solution for transportation problems, the freeway is the solution of tourism, agriculture and social problems, the freeway is a public opinion in Hualien, the freeway is manipulated by politicians in elections, the freeway has big impact on the environment, and the freeway affects aboriginal territories. I found different newspapers used different perspectives to report these arguments more or less. The difference can be explained by that these three newspapers had various interests to consider the newsworthiness, the media frame they preferred to use, and to be objective and balanced or not according to their own characters. This different reporting of the newspapers give the public more multiple visual angles to understand this complicated environmental issue, but may also intense the conflict between stakeholders who receiving information from different newspapers.

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