Framing the future of the ogallala: a comparative content analysis of agricultural and mainstream media publications



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The Ogallala aquifer is a vital water source on the High Plains of the United States that supplies water for a large sector of United States agriculture. However, the high demand for agricultural products, paired with periods of drought, has brought the attention of the declining water levels of the aquifer to the attention of the media. This comparative content analysis of articles from mainstream and agricultural news publications from 2007 to 2017 sought to analyze the difference and similarities between the use of frames and sources in the news coverage. A total of 57 agricultural news articles and 61 mainstream news articles were analyzed for the use of frames and sources. Results indicated that agricultural publications use the environment and economic frames most often while mainstream publications use environment and policy frames. The most common sources used in the agricultural publications were government officials and conservation group members. The most common sources in the mainstream articles were government officials and farmers. Based on the results, it is recommended that further research be done with a larger sample size of publications across the High Plains. Additionally, there are recommendations for communications and journalistic practitioners to continue using certain sources and frames to avoid bias in reporting.



Ogallala Aquifer, Conservation, Newspapers, Framing, Environment, Science communications