Communicating chemical risks: Beyond the risk society

Alison Anderson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The news media play a potentially crucial, yet often under-theorised, role in communicating chemical risks. Since research has tended to be restricted by traditional disciplinary boundaries, it has not always been able to benefit from insights gained from a broader perspective and has remained very fragmented. This chapter argues that recent approaches point to a more complex understanding of risk reporting and reflect wider social changes, both in the nature of 'risk' and the structure and workings of the media. It argues that any analysis of the media reporting of risk must be placed within the broader context of the growing concentration and globalisation of news media ownership and the increasingly 'promotional culture' which we inhabit, highlighted by the rapid rise of the public relations industry in recent years and claims-makers that employ increasingly sophisticated media strategies. This is illustrated by considering examples such as the furor over the proposed dumping of the Brent Spar oil installation at sea in 1995 and the Prestige oil disaster of 2002. Key issues are highlighted concerning news values, the credibility of news sources and access to the news media, and the current organisation of news work.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRegulating Chemical Risks: European and Global Challenges
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9789048194278
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Brent Spar
  • Chemicals
  • News media
  • Prestige disaster
  • Risk society

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