News Discourse about Petroleum Industry Activities: Corporate News Frames Compared with Those Found in Indigenous Media
In Canada, petroleum industry activities are controversial issues that attract intense media scrutiny. Proponents point to significant economic benefits that flow from resource extraction and distribution initiatives, while detractors emphasize the industry’s effects on global warming and the environment. The scientific community has identified climate change as the most pressing issue of our time, one requiring urgent attention from governments, corporations, and citizenry. Oil production initiatives such as the oil sands, and issues associated with transporting petroleum products to markets via pipelines, rail and tankers across Indigenous territory or through Indigenous waterways represent threats to the ecologies of local Indigenous peoples and challenges to Indigenous rights and sovereignty, including on Stó:lō territory.
This paper reports on preliminary findings from a study examining 2020 news coverage of petroleum industry activities affecting Indigenous territories in 10 corporate newspapers and 12 Indigenous publications. New insights are emerging about how the mainstream press and Indigenous news media portray petroleum industry activities, their impacts on the economy, the environment, climate change, and Indigenous peoples. While corporate media have the potential to play a key role in educating Canadians about the impact of petroleum industry activities on climate change, the environment, and Indigenous peoples, they may also obfuscate critical issues or minimize the industry’s negative effects. On the other hand, Indigenous media may furnish new ways of seeing land, resource development, and stewardship of the natural environment.
Robert Harding, Alisha Slack, and Sara Hoffmann, University of the Fraser Valley
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