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News media framing of the Murray–Darling Basin 'water theft’ controversy

Clifford, K and White, R ORCID: 0000-0002-8800-0093 2021 , 'News media framing of the Murray–Darling Basin 'water theft’ controversy' , Journal of Criminology, vol. 54, no. 3 , pp. 365-382 , doi: 10.1177/00048658211000094.

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An Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Four Corners investigation, screened on freeto-air television on 24 July 2017, revealed a series of improper conducts pertaining to theMurray–Darling Basin river system. The journalistic expose included allegations of watertheft, questionable compliance decisions and collusion between water regulators and irrigation lobbyists. This interdisciplinary study explores the revelations and their framing in asample of state and national media reports about the ‘water theft’ controversy and its fallout.It compares these with the normative frames adopted by critical green criminology, whichviews the allegations at the heart of the Murray–Darling Basin controversy in terms of statecorporate interests, industry capture of regulators and the notion that water ‘theft’ constitutes a ‘crime’ because of the environmental harm that results from excessive waterextraction. This article presents the findings of the study, which elaborate on the impactsof media framing of crimes of the powerful (such as large agricultural companies andstate government agencies), including the shaping of public understandings of environmentalmatters.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Clifford, K and White, R
Keywords: environmental harm, Four Corners, media criminology, Murray–Darling Basin, news framing, water governance, water theft
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Criminology
Publisher: Hindawi Publishing Corporation
ISSN: 2090-7753
DOI / ID Number: 10.1177/00048658211000094
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