What news from the sea? Assessing the presence of marine issues in the Portuguese quality press over time
Bruno Pinto – Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon. Portugal
Henrique Nogueira Cabral – University of Lisbon Portugal
José Lino Costa – University of Lisbon Portugal
The current study aimed at characterizing the marine news in a Portuguese quality newspaper between October 2002 and December 2010. The search for keywords related to the marine environment resulted in the collection of 1309 news items, with a mean number of 13.22 news per month. There were two peaks in the number of news corresponding to the oil spills of the tanker Prestige in Spain and the rig Deepwater Horizon in the USA. The most common themes on the studied news were pollution, marine species/habitats and fisheries, while others such as coastal planning or marine science research were less relevant. Additionally, it was found that news about marine sciences frequently used only a neutral tone (78%), with the occasional use of a positive (12%) and or a negative tone (10%). The modest number of news found seem to be related to the low public interest and knowledge on environmental and science themes shown in several national surveys, to the small number of Portuguese journalists specialized in these issues, and to a reduced connection between journalists and scientists, NGOs, national and international governmental bodies and others. Initiatives such as communication using charismatic marine species, workshops about the sea which involve journalists, or citizen science and community-based projects could help to generate more media interest about the sea.