Reporting the drought: a study of news cycles

Cockfield, Geoff and Easton, Kim (2003) Reporting the drought: a study of news cycles. Australian Journalism Review, 25 (1). pp. 165-180. ISSN 0810-2686


Droughts are newsworthy because of their impacts on regional and national economies and on farmers, a group with an almost iconic status in Australian society. On the other hand, a drought can be long, and from a news gathering point of view, uninteresting. This is a study of the way in which media coverage of drought waxes and wanes, with the primary purpose being to see whether or not the intensity of the news coverage varies with the intensity of the drought. The second purpose is to see if a regional news organisation is more interested in a drought and more attuned to the severity of that drought than is the case with a metropolitan news organisation. The main data set comprises the monthly totals of the number of drought-related news stories in two daily newspapers, one metropolitan (Brisbane) and one regional (Toowoomba), from early 1990 to late 1996, a period of below-average rainfall in southern Queensland. Statistical regression tests revealed correlations between some of the variables. Against initial expectations, the metropolitan newspaper coverage ran almost as many drought-related stories as its regional counterpart and the intensity of the coverage was significantly correlated with a ‘drought intensity index’, whereas this was not so for the regional paper. It was also noted that there were some differences in the types of drought stories that each paper ran and in their apparent responsiveness to the severity of the drought.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business - Department of Economics and Resource Management (Up to 31 Mar 2007)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business - Department of Economics and Resource Management (Up to 31 Mar 2007)
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2008 00:06
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 22:59
Uncontrolled Keywords: drought; news; media coverage; reporting; regional news; metropolitan news
Fields of Research (2008): 19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1903 Journalism and Professional Writing > 190301 Journalism Studies
16 Studies in Human Society > 1604 Human Geography > 160401 Economic Geography
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170113 Social and Community Psychology
Fields of Research (2020): 47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4701 Communication and media studies > 470105 Journalism studies
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4406 Human geography > 440603 Economic geography
52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5205 Social and personality psychology > 520599 Social and personality psychology not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): B Economic Development > 89 Information and Communication Services > 8904 Media Services > 890404 Publishing and Print Services (incl. Internet Publishing)

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