Coral Reef Crisis Framing: An Analysis of Coral Reef Print Media News Coverage in Florida and Hawaii (1997-2019)



Bayne, Nicole

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Coral reefs are environmentally and economically beneficial to many coastal communities, but anthropogenic stressors have decimated these ecosystems. Reefs continue to decline in Florida despite increased research funding. However, as a possible result of regulating anthropogenic stressors like overfishing and pollution, Hawaiian coral reefs have been recovering. This suggests a need for increased awareness of the potential for reef recovery and those steps that assist recovery. A quantitative content analysis examined the role of local print news in the framing of coral reef decline since 1997 within Floridian and Hawaiian communities. Articles were purposively sampled from (n=389) and intercoder reliability for each variable in the coding rubric was established using Krippendorff’s Alpha (α>.800) on 15% of the dataset. A second coder assessed 30% of the dataset. Results of crosstabulation through chi–square analyses support the hypothesis that news coverage of coral reef decline between Floridian and Hawaiian newspapers would differ. Articles published in Florida are more likely to report causes of coral decline, whereas articles published in Hawaii are more likely to report U.S. government actions implemented to conserve coral. These findings portray a spectrum of potentially polarized focus between local print news in Florida and Hawaii. The results here provide a fundamental basis for what might be considered successful versus unsuccessful coral reef crisis frames in which successful framing may lead to coral recovery.



Environmental science, Coral reef conservation, Mass communication, Crisis framing, Quantitative content analysis, Print news