Policy framing in the press: analyzing media coverage of two flood disasters


Thistlethwaite, J. , Henstra, D. , Minano, A. , & Dordi, T. . (2019). Policy framing in the press: analyzing media coverage of two flood disasters. Regional Environmental Change. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-019-01576-7


Disasters focus public and political attention on environmental hazards, creating a window of opportunity to adopt new risk reduction policies. The news media can shape post-disaster policy debate by directing the attention of policymakers towards problems and solutions and framing the nature of support or opposition to policy change. For these reasons, scholars have devoted increasing attention to the policy influence of the media over public policies to address hazards, particularly floods. However, the nature of news media coverage following flood disasters is largely unexplored in Canada. Through a content analysis of newspaper coverage around two of Canada’s most significant floods, this paper examines whether and how the media frame flooding as a policy problem. The results reveal that the Canadian media are focused more on the short-term impacts of hazards than on the policy problems that underpin flood risk. In addition, the study confirms relationships found in previous research between media content and the substance of policy discussions, which could inform a broader multijurisdictional comparison of media coverage and hazard policy.


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Last updated on 12/02/2019