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am 20. Februar 1999
In an even-handed examination of how mass media forms the boundaries of environmental issues, David Guantlett, with skill and clarity maneuvers through potentially difficult and theory-ladden "critical theory," incorporating a Herman/Chomsky (Manufacturing Consent) edge, examining the way television affects the way audiences frame the incredibly complicated and inter-penetrating social issues of environmental problems. Guantlett is not so much interested in whether the mass media is culpable of intensionally ignoring or avoiding environmental issues. Instead he discovers through a creative study that children audiences have internalized environmental problems and their solutions in a one-dimensional "narrative": the problem has been created by individuals and is to be then solved by individuals. So what's the problem with that? It seems clear enough that if there are environmental problems, they are nothing more that an accumulation and combination of individual lifestyle choices and subsequent actions. Right? Not so fast. Within this "individualistic" problem/solution framework, how do we account for and address instances of polluting industries that fall within government and legal regulations? Moreover, how do we address the environmentally problematic social institutions, such as the wide-spread car-centered transportation rubrics through an "individual" problem/solution framework? Is there not an equally complicit socio-political aspect to environmental issues? And why is this aspect, the environmentally comprimising social institutions, missing withing environmental news coverage? Guantlett's subltle, yet powerful analysis shows that the important "absent narrative" within television coverage of environmental issues is nothing as diabolical, cliche, or as simple as a conspiracy thoery, but rather the normal outcome of the workings of modern industial capitalism, corporate owned media, and thus an increasingly narrow ideological framework of acceptable media content. Guantlett's work is on the money - so to speak.
A worthwhile sidenote: anyone who can incorporate Horkheimer, Adorno, Marx, and Beavis and Butthead into a single chapter about mass media and society is a five-star book for that reason alone - enjoy!
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