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Attitudes toward roads on the National Forests: An analysis of the News Media.

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Bengston, David; Fan, David

Year Published



Draft version. 12-22-97. 59p.


Key Findings: *Recreational uses of roads were expressed most often: Recreational uses and benefits of roads on the national forests were discussed most often in the news media overall. This discussion included both expressions of opinion about the value of roads for recreational purposes and, more commonly, descriptions of roads being useful for recreational access. Discussion of recreational uses of roads was dominant in each region, but not in national news sources. *Ecological costs of roads were also discussed frequently: The view that roads entail ecological costs was the second most frequently expressed view in each of the regions during a 2-year base period. Ecological costs were the most often discussed view in national news sources. *News media coverage of roads increased dramatically in recent months: The total amount of news media coverage of roads on the national forests increased dramatically in the third quarter of 1997. This increase was due to narrowly defeated proposals in the U.S. House of Resentatives (July, 1997) and the U.S. Senate (September, 1997) to make major cuts in spending on logging roads. The view that roads are a subsidy to the timber industry ("subsidy cost") was the most frequently discussed view in the third quarter of 1997 in the East, West, and national news sources. Recreational uses of roads were expressed most frequently in the InterWest during this quarter. * Roads vs. roadless discussion: About 90 % of the news media paragraphs analyzed in this report discussed roads and 10 % discussed roadless issues over the entire 3-year period. This was the case in each region and in the national media. Discussion of roadless issues was significantly higher in national news sources than regional newspapers during a 2-year base period. But discussion of roadless issues was less in national news sources than the regions during the third quarter of 1997. *Intensity of conflict over roads: National news sources generally had a much higher and much more variable intensity of conflict over roads than any of the regions. *National media coverage of roads was significantly different than regional coverage: As revealed by most of the preceding findings, the composition of national news coverage of roads was different than regional coverage: - National media placed greater emphasis on subsidy costs, commodity benefits, ecological costs, and the ecological benefits of roadless areas than regional media. National media also contained more discussion of roadless issues during a 2-year base period and a greater intensity of conflict than the regions. *National media placed less emphasis on recreational uses of roads on national forests than regional media. The difference between national and regional coverage of roads is due to the national media''s focus on controversial policy issues, rather than on local and regional issues that are sometimes non-controversial.


Bengston, David; Fan, David. 1997. Attitudes toward roads on the National Forests: An analysis of the News Media. Draft version. 12-22-97. 59p.

Last updated on: April 13, 2016