Acclimatizing nuclear? Climate change, nuclear power and the reframing of risk in the UK news media

Doyle, Julie (2011) Acclimatizing nuclear? Climate change, nuclear power and the reframing of risk in the UK news media International Communication Gazette, 73 (1-2). pp. 107-125. ISSN 1748-0485

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In January 2008, the UK Labour government announced that new nuclear power would play a role in the generation of low carbon electricity, and thus in the mitigation of climate change. This reframing of new nuclear power as a means of tackling climate change signalled a dramatic U-turn on Labour’s commitment to decommission all existing UK nuclear power stations by 2025. In the context of the political reframing of new nuclear builds, this article examines how the UK news media contributed to the reframing of nuclear power as low carbon, and the implications this has for public under- standing of nuclear power and climate change. Covering the time period from September 2005 to January 2008, a critical discourse analysis of three UK newspapers – the Daily Mirror (tabloid), the Daily Mail (mid-range) and The Independent (broadsheet) – is pre- sented. This period covers the months leading up to the launch of the UK government’s first Energy Review in January 2006, to the publication of the government’s final White Paper on Nuclear Power in January 2008. The analysis found that the official governmental discourse on nuclear power as essential to climate change mitigation and the security of future energy supplies was variously reproduced and contested across the three news- papers. However, while the government’s rebranding of nuclear as less risky than climate change is not explicitly endorsed by any of the newspapers, it certainly provides the dis- cursive context through which policy decisions on new nuclear have been largely accepted by the UK news media.

Item Type: Journal article
Uncontrolled Keywords: nuclear power; climate change; news media; discourse analysis; risk, nuclear policy;
Subjects: Q000 Languages and Literature - Linguistics and related subjects > Q100 Linguistics
P000 Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
F000 Physical Sciences > F800 Physical Geography and Environmental Sciences > F860 Climatology
DOI (a stable link to the resource): 10.1177/1748048510386744
Faculties: Faculty of Arts
Faculty of Arts > School of Arts and Media
Depositing User: Julie Doyle
Date Deposited: 15 May 2012 10:42
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2015 11:02

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