Doctoral candidate Jill Hopke publishes in Environmental Communication

LSC doctoral candidate Jill Hopke has research included in a special issue of Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture on environmental justice in international contexts. 

Hopke’s work explores mainstream and alternative press discourse of conflict over metallic mining in El Salvador. Through identifying mainstream and counter-frames, her analysis shows how Salvadoran anti-mining movement achieved a position of short-term prominence within the dominant media discourse surrounding gold mining. However, even when the movement was able to break into the mainstream press, the resulting news coverage reproduced the nation-state’s traditional power structure. In contrast, the alternative press challenged the neoliberal economic system, presenting a counter-narrative of community rights and a negligent national government that failed to protect the environment and health of its citizens.

The study illustrates a case in which alternative media support of social movement collective action framing processes brought heightened attention to the dangers of mining in the Salvadoran public sphere, advancing understanding of the dynamics of media-movement relations. Furthermore, it extends research on Latin American environmental justice movements by illustrating how alternative media coverage supports the claims-making of environmental justice movements. Hopke argues that by reframing dominant narratives of economic progress toward community rights and environmental justice, alternative media can act in synergy with environmental justice movements to discursively break a cycle of environmental inequity by collectively reimagining a more sustainable and just future.

“All of the scholarship in this collection expand notions of environmental justice and communication globally in much needed directions,” said Hopke. “It’s an honor to have my work included in this special issue of Environmental Communication along with such distinguished scholars, advancing academic knowledge on communicative aspects of globalization and environmental justice beyond the United States. It is also personally gratifying to bring attention the efforts of Salvadoran activists who have been courageous in confronting the potential environmental and health impacts of extractive industries in their local communities.”

This research was funded through a Nave Short Term Field Research Grant from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author.

Environmental Communication is the flagship journal of the International Environmental Communication Association. You can access the full text of the article here and follow Hopke on Twitter at @jillhopke.