Doyle J (2011) Acclimatizing nuclear? Climate change, nuclear power and the reframing of risk in the UK news media. In: International Communication Gazette, Vol. 73, No. 1–2, February/March 2011, pp. 107–125
This is the first article to examine the role the UK news media played in reframing nuclear power as low carbon, and to consider the implications this has for public understandings of nuclear power and climate change. Building on Doyle’s previous investigations into mediation and climate change, this article examines: the context of the political reframing of new nuclear builds by the Labour government that took place between 2006 and 2008; how the UK news media contributed to the reframing of nuclear power as low carbon; and what the implications were for public understanding of nuclear power and climate change.
Through an assessment of government reports and policy documents and a critical discourse analysis of three UK newspapers (the Daily Mirror, the Daily Mail, and The Independent), this article highlights how official governmental discourse on nuclear power was variously reproduced and contested across the three newspapers. Observing that the government’s rebranding of nuclear as less risky than climate change was not initially endorsed by any of the newspapers, this article shows how the discursive context surrounding policy decisions on new nuclear became largely accepted by the UK news media over time.
This article is underpinned by Doyle’s participation in the Spectacular Environmentalisms AHRC Research Network (2010–11) and her role as co-founder and joint vice-chair of the Science and Environment Communication Section of the European Communication and Research Education Association. This article has been used in more recent media and public perception analyses of nuclear power post-Fukushima, and in the magazine article 'Environment: Science and policy for sustainable development'. The article was part of the International Communication Gazette’s first special issue on the environment which Doyle co-edited with Anders Hansen.