Environmental risks in the news: Issues, sources, problems, and values

Ann M. Major, L. Erwin Atwood

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Studies of news media reports of environmental risks generally have observed that environmental news tends to be dramatic and ambiguous with little information that would help the public understand the risks that exist in communities. This analysis was designed to identify differences between environmental news stories that report risks with those that do not. The sample of 841 news stories was drawn from 12,000 stories published between 1 September 1997 and 31 August 1998 in 93 Pennsylvania daily newspapers. Nearly 60% of the news stories and releases did not mention risk. The findings suggest that the environmental issues and the environmental values supporting those issues predicted whether a news story would report risks. Sources, problem definitions, and traditional news values were less useful in differentiating risk from non-risk news stories and releases. The stories provided limited information that would facilitate public understanding of environmental risks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-308
Number of pages14
JournalPublic Understanding of Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Environmental risks in the news: Issues, sources, problems, and values'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this