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Mediated visibility and public environmental litigation: the interplay between inside and outside court during environmental conflict in Australia


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Nixon, C, Konkes, C ORCID: 0000-0003-0847-0763, Lester, L ORCID: 0000-0003-1046-2412 and Williams, K ORCID: 0000-0001-8530-5361 2021 , 'Mediated visibility and public environmental litigation: the interplay between inside and outside court during environmental conflict in Australia' , Laws, vol. 10, no. 2 , pp. 1-13 , doi: 10.3390/laws10020035.

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Conflicts over environmental sustainability are increasingly being fought in court, such as the use of Public Environmental Litigation (PEL) to challenge developments impacting the environment in Australia and elsewhere. News media coverage of PEL introduces legal actors to the dynamics of mediatized environmental conflict, which provides a platform for conflict actors to gain mediated visibility for their cause to influence public debate. When legal opportunities, such as PEL, are used as a campaign tactic, the dynamics of contest are exposed and, while courts have some power over legal actors, parties seek news media to favorably translate legal outcomes to the public. This article explores the nexus of PEL, news media, and communication strategies to find greater understanding of who gains from the mediated visibility that occurs when transnational environmental campaigns take their claims to court. Using content analysis and discourse analysis of news texts and semi-structured interviews relating to eight PEL cases instigated to stop the Adani Carmichael coal megamine in Australia, we seek better understanding of the mechanisms at play when PEL campaigns appear in news media, and find that the dominance of outside court sources in news coverage not only privilege the political aspects of PEL over the legal, but highlights how strategic litigation, such as PEL, can be used to influence public opinion and, therefore, a political response, regarding environmental conflict.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Nixon, C and Konkes, C and Lester, L and Williams, K
Keywords: environmental communication, communication studies, climate change, strategic litigation, media visibility
Journal or Publication Title: Laws
Publisher: MDPI AG
ISSN: 2075-471X
DOI / ID Number: 10.3390/laws10020035
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2021 the authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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