Silence as strategy in public energy discourse: oil and gas fracking in Eastern Utah

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Publication Type thesis
School or College College of Humanities
Department Communication
Author Jones, Kelly Rae
Title Silence as strategy in public energy discourse: oil and gas fracking in Eastern Utah
Date 2014-12
Description This study examines silence in rural and national newspaper coverage of oil and natural gas fracking. Silence in public discourse reflects and shapes public discourse about the valuing of land. Silence about fracking may create and allow gaps where environmental and human health concerns are unequally considered in public news conversation. Fracking is a process of oil and gas extraction found in many rural communities, including an eastern Utah community called the Uinta Basin. While the safety and environmental impacts of fracking are avidly debated in neighboring states, such as Colorado and Wyoming, there is limited local news coverage or controversy surrounding the issue in the Basin, where local and federal policy makers, oil and gas companies, and fracking opponents are defining the parameters of future natural resource extraction and land use. A corpus of 91 New York Times articles and 63 articles from two rural papers, The Uintah Basin Standard and The Vernal Express, published over a 1-year period from April 1, 2012-April 1, 2013, is compared to identify topics, arguments, and themes covered and to identify stakeholder silences and the voices speaking on the issue. Interviews with local journalists are conducted to explore how particular geography, personal standpoint, and production processes may influence characterizations and silence about fracking. Local journalists articulate strategies for negotiating a personal and professional relationship with silence and offer insights into the complex process of message construction and silence negotiation. Identification of gaps and silences in the national and local conversation on fracking highlights differences in the valuing and use of natural resources. Like language, silence in public discourse can strategically and powerfully communicate and impact the negotiation and valuing of land. Silence is apparent in topical omission, simplification, and amplification of some aspects of oil and natural gas fracking over others. A complex and critical look at the role that linguistic absences play in facilitating particular actions with the land may offer ideas toward greater collaborative efforts to forestall environmental mistreatment and open areas for discussion and further consideration of natural resources for a variety of interested stakeholders.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Subject Communication strategy; Environment; Fracking; News; Oil and natural gas; Silence
Dissertation Institution University of Utah
Dissertation Name Master of Arts
Language eng
Rights Management Copyright © Kelly Rae Jones 2014
Format Medium application/pdf
Format Extent 2,187,342 bytes
Identifier etd3/id/3374
ARK ark:/87278/s65j0qh0
Setname ir_etd
Date Created 2015-02-25
Date Modified 2017-09-19
ID 196938
Reference URL