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The news media exerts significant influence on what issues and events are given prominence in public discourse and how they are represented. The changing media landscape however is altering the way people receive daily news and resources available for investigative news journalism. Despite these changes, demand remains for quality titles, where news reporting is well researched and edited. An example is the recent entry of The Guardian into the Australian market. The topics these ‘quality’ titles choose to cover, the way the stories are framed and sources used influences how readers might perceive an issue and its relevance to them. This is particularly so in construction of stories about the natural environment. Drawing on the broadsheets of Sydney and Canberra, this study uses content analysis to examine news, feature stories and opinion pieces that cover nature and human interaction with nature. Specifically, it examines how articles for the period January 2011 to June 2013 represent nature and the messages being communicated to readers. This lens is of particular interest in Sydney and Canberra, where the urban structure is defined by the natural landscape and many suburbs interface with the bush. It is also of interest given the urban disconnect with nature, particularly children. The findings reveal nature is consistently framed in terms of risk and potential loss – risks to nature from human activities and risks to lives and homes from bushfire and other natural events. This representation serves to delimit the scope of urban experience and the opportunity to challenge the ways people think about the place of nature in their urban lives.
Correction: This paper states on Page 5. that Rosslyn Beeby retired from the Canberra Times during the re-structure of Fairfax media in mid 2012. This is incorrect. Rosslyn took a voluntary redundancy and is still working as a journalist writing about environmental issues for various publications.