Date of Completion
Honors College Thesis
wind power, media analysis, renewable energy, public opinion, news, Vermont
This research project examines the changing frames and actors appearing in news media coverage of Vermont’s ongoing wind power debate over the past ten years. In the last few years, the construction of utility-scale turbines on Vermont’s ridgelines has led to an increasingly contested debate about the future of wind-power in the state. On one side, supporters argue about the critical importance of renewable energy in confronting global climate change. On the other side, opponents argue against scarring Vermont’s mountains with “industrial scale” turbines. In this research, I collected 477 news articles between 2003-2013 from three Vermont news sources; the state’s largest newspaper (The Burlington Free Press), the state’s leading news wire service (The Associated Press), and a local newspaper printed near several of the proposed and finished projects (The Caledonian Record). I analyzed the news media for both frames (Gamson, 2005) and the presence of actors, comparing changes over time within and across outlets. Findings indicate that certain frames gained traction over time (e.g. human health impacts), while others declined (aesthetics). Similarly, the prevalence of actors changed over time as well; pro-wind organizations were cited less frequently and Vermont citizens cited more frequently as projects moved from planning to completion. The results of this research contribute to a greater understanding of the successes and failures of advocates using anthropogenic climate change arguments to argue for wind energy development.
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Brandt, Neil E., "Changing Actors and Discourse: An Analysis of Ten Years of Media Coverage In Vermont’s Wind Power Debate" (2014). UVM Honors College Senior Theses. 42.