Original Research

Environmental reporting through newspapers in South Africa: A comparative study

Adriaan J. van der Walt
Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie | Vol 35, No 1 | a1379 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/satnt.v35i1.1379 | © 2016 Adriaan J. van der Walt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 February 2016 | Published: 31 August 2016

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Adriaan J. van der Walt, Department of Geography, University of the Free State, South Africa


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Abstract

In the last three decades of the 20th century the world witnessed an increased awareness of the global environment and the impact of human actions. From an environmental perspective, the mass media contributed to the heightened environmental awareness and, rightly or wrongly, focused the attention of the public on specific environmental issues. This vital source of information to the public (the mass media), can take on many forms, including television, magazines, newspapers and pamphlets. In general, newspapers have been found to be one of the most predominant sources of information available to the public. Therefore, this paper focuses on environmental reporting through national newspapers in South Africa and whether the reporting is sufficient to hone public awareness. Copies of two national newspapers, one English (Sunday Times) and one Afrikaans (Rapport) were obtained from the main library in Bloemfontein and were analysed over a two-year period,that is 2007 and 2008. The objectives were to determine the number of environmental articles; the type and/or category of articles and the importance (page number) of articles in both national newspapers. The results were compared and show a very interesting flow of environmental information. Preliminary results indicate that there was a decrease in environmental related articles over the years studied; and that most environmental articles fall into the main category of biodiversity. The Afrikaans paper focused predominantly on national news, while the English paper showed an even distribution between national and international environmental news.

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