More fuel to the fire: news coverage of wildfires

M. Domínguez, C. González, F. Pineda


In this article we analyse media coverage of wildfires that occurred from June 2012 to July 2012 in the region of Valencia. Additionally, the research focuses on the characterization of lexical resources, with a prominent presence of metaphors and rhetorical figures. Results point to a predominance of social and economic information over ecological, as well as a highly politicised coverage of the events, with a significant bias depending on the political stance of the medium. This bias many times prevented journalists from carrying out a deeper analysis, with more elements in mind of a different type relating to wildfires. In addition, a sensationalist and alarmist overtone can be observed. It silences any kind of reflection due to the anthropocentric conception of landscape developed in European society during the nineteenth century. This study makes a record of the urgent need for a better scientific communication about the nature of fire and its relationship with Mediterranean ecosystems. With this intention, some guidelines are suggested for media coverage of wildfires, such as contextualisation of fire in the life cycle of ecosystems, comprehension of diversity and complexity of its causes, as well as a stake in the protection of forestry heritage, especially in increasingly abandoned rural areas. A more responsible attitude by the media should help the population understand the need to leave certain wrong approaches and favour rigorous collective debate on forest management in order to face wildfires in Mediterranean regions.


wildfires, media, politization, journalism, press, environment


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© Universidad de La Rioja, 2013

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