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Environmental protest and tap-dancing with the media in the information age


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Hutchins, B and Lester, L 2006 , 'Environmental protest and tap-dancing with the media in the information age' , Media, Culture & Society, vol. 28, no. 3 , pp. 433-451 , doi: 10.1177/0163443706062911.

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Environmental politics and values gain legitimacy through their constant presence in the media. This article outlines and critiques a theoretical approach that can increase understanding of the relationship between environmental protest and news media representation. Manuel Castells, pre-eminent theorist of the information age and 'the network society', is useful in this regard. He describes the relationship between media organizations and environmentalists as 'tap-dancing'. His explanation of this dance and its choreography, however, is overly general, ignoring its specific features and workings in terms of representation. In order to detail some of these features, we have selected for study Australia's most famous environmental protest and a globally significant moment for green politics: the 1982 Franklin Dam blockade in Tasmania. We argue that it was during this blockade that an enduring pattern of media environmentalist relations was established in Australia, and substantiate this case by examining subsequent protests. The article concludes by critiquing current understandings of media environmentalist relations and explains the dynamics of the mediation process that determines the reporting of protests.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Hutchins, B and Lester, L
Keywords: Castells • environmental politics • media-environmentalist relations • network society • Tasmania
Journal or Publication Title: Media, Culture & Society
DOI / ID Number: 10.1177/0163443706062911
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Copyright 2006 SAGE Publishers. Definitive version is available online at

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