Date of Award

2022

Degree Type

Thesis

Department

Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Emily Diamond

Abstract

Mixed methods analysis was used to evaluate policy protections and media coverage of the less endangered North Atlantic Right Whale (NARW) compared to the more endangered North Pacific Right Whale (NPRW) from 2008-2020. The NARW and NPRW represent an interesting case study of mismatched conservation action and threat status, due to their highly similar appearance and membership in a traditionally highly prioritized group for conservation action. This study establishes large differences in policy creation between the species and uses media content analysis of news coverage of both whales to understand trends in framing, tone, and content between articles focusing on each of the species. High rates of policy creation and media coverage were found for the NARW, compared to low policy creation and media coverage for the NPRW over the 12-year frame of study. The majority of articles discussing NARWs were neutrally or negatively toned and used solutions-oriented and environmental frames. Lack of media attention on the NPRW led to low sample size and only loose trends in frames, tone, and content. Increased policy creation was correlated with higher media coverage of NARWs, reinforcing agenda-setting theory. This study aims to provide an example to the emerging literature on marine conservation and endangered species communication to further understanding of communication strategies that are associated with increased public engagement and policy creation.

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