This article was downloaded by: [University of Sussex Library] On: 06 February 2015, At: 01:57 Publisher: Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK The Journal of Environmental Education Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/vjee20 The Impact of Television News on Public Environmental Knowledge a b Christine C. Brothers , Rosanne W. Fortner & Victor J. Mayer a b Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary , S. Wellfleet, Massachusetts, USA b The Ohio State University , Columbus, USA Published online: 15 Jul 2010. To cite this article: Christine C. Brothers , Rosanne W. Fortner & Victor J. Mayer (1991) The Impact of Television News on Public Environmental Knowledge, The Journal of Environmental Education, 22:4, 22-29, DOI: 10.1080/00958964.1991.9943058 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00958964.1991.9943058 PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the “Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis, our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of the Content. This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http:// www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions Downloaded by [University of Sussex Library] at 01:57 06 February 2015 The Impact of Television News on Public Environmental Knowledge CHRISTINE C. BROTHERS, ROSANNE W. FORTNER, and VICTOR J. MAYER ABSTRACT: This study measured the impact of a television news program in educating adults about the Great Lakes environment. In May 1989, WJW-TV8 in Cleveland broadcasted selected knowledge questions and their answers, with accompanying explanatory video segments, on the station’s evening news program. Following the broadcast, 461 Clevelanders completed the entire questionnaire at county and city library branches. A comparison of library respondents’ knowledge scores on questions that had and had not been broadcast showed that the news program increased knowledge levels significantly. To the extent that the television news viewers who voluntarily participated in the study are representative of the general public, it seems that this media format can be an effective way to educate the public about the environment. T Yet statewide tests of Ohio students’ knowledge about the Great Lakes, administered in 1979, 1983, and 1987, indicate that knowledge levels are low. Of over 3,700 ninth graders tested, about 40% could not identify Lake Erie on a map of the Great Lakes. Ninth graders did not know what PCBs are (34% correct) or what eutrophication means (310/0), even though these have been serious issues in the Great Lakes for many years. In 1987, scores for fifth and ninth graders were 39% and 50%, respectively (Fortner and Mayer, in press). Whereas ignorance of the consequences of actions such as building too close to the shore or using excessive amounts of fertilizers is suspected of being a contributor to environmental degradation, no studies have been done to determine if indeed the adult public is ignorant of basic environmental concepts about the Great Lakes. Thus, the educational goals and efforts of public education groups are based on a perceived but undocumented need for such education. he five Great Lakes are an international resource and asset. Each day, over 11 million people get their drinking water from Lake Erie alone. The lakes generate billions of dollars in economic revenues through recreation, power production, transportation, mineral resources, and manufacturing. They provide habitat for wildlife and moderate the region’s climate. The settlement and development of the continent were strongly influenced by the Great Lakes. Christine C. Brothers is program coordinator at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlve Sanctuary in S. Welweet, Mwachusetts. Rosanne Fortner 13 a professor of natural resources and Victor J. Mayer is a profaor of science education, both at The Ohio State University in Columbus. 22 BROTHERS, FORTNER, and MAYER Downloaded by [University of Sussex Library] at 01:57 06 February 2015 We designed this project to docudent current levels of Great Lakes knowledge among adults and demonstrate that a television news program can enhance that knowledge. Questions and answers from the Great Lakes Survey were broadcast, followed by video segments explaining and expanding upon each question. With the broadcast, the public received important information about environmental issues currently affecting the Great Lakes. The complete survey, administered after the broadcast, measured the impact of the television news show in educating adults about the Great Lakes. Research Background Environmental knowledge and attitudes have generally been found to be positively correlated (Fortner and Mayer 1988 and 1983; Hamilton 1986; Fortner and Teates 1980). Research on public environmental knowledge has been limited in recent years, and environmental knowledge levels have generally been found to be low (Miller 1989; Arcury, Scollay, and Johnson 1987; Arcury and Johnson 1987; Buethe 1985; Resources for the Future 1980). Much of the research on environmental knowledge has been on school students, and knowledge levels have also been low among this group (Brody, Chipman, and Marion 1989; Mullis and Jenkins 1988; Fortner and Mayer, in press; Blum 1987; Brody and Koch 1986; Walter and Lien 1985). Environmental knowledge is frequently found to be correlated with educational level (Caron 1989; Arcury and Johnson 1987). Males tend to be more environmentally literate (Blum 1987; Arcury and Johnson 1985; Arcury, Scollay, and Johnson 1987; Buethe 1985; Fortner and Mayer 1988 and 1983; Fortner and Teates 1980). In their analysis of studies on environmental concern, Van Liere and Dunlap (1980) conclude that younger people, urban residents, and liberals tend to be more environmentally concerned than older people, rural residents, and conservatives. There is a moderately strong relationship between education and concern. Sex, income, and occupation are not substantially associated with environmental concern. Correlations between various measures of environmental concern and sociodemographic characteristics vary considerably among studies, suggesting that environmental concern may be a fairly broad concept, that different types of concern may be related to demographic characteristicsin different ways, and that environmental concern may be widespread in American society (Van Liere and Dunlap 1981). Television is often perceived to be the source of environmental information for most people (SIP1 1989; Blum 1987; Fortner and Mayer, in press; Fortner and Lyon 1985; Fortner 1985; Walter and Lien 1985; Fortner and Teates 1980; Alaimo and Doran 1980). Television documentaries have also been shown to increase environmental knowledge and produce positive, although temporary, attitude shifts (Fortner 1985; Fortner and 23 Lyon 1985). Given the low levels of public environmental knowledge, the general assumption that public environmental literacy is a prerequisite of a quality environment, and the frequency with which television is cited as a source of environmental information, television should have an important role to play in the development of public environmental knowledge and concern. Methods Objectives and Definitions The objectives of our research were to (a) determine what an adult sector of the public knows about the resources of and issues facing the Great Lakes; (b) determine what opinions toward the Great Lakes are held by an adult sector of the public; (c) identify demographic characteristics related to public knowledge of and opinions toward the Great Lakes; and (d) determine what impact a television news show can have on public knowledge of the Great Lakes. Environmental knowledge was represented by scores obtained on the multiple-choice section of the Great Lakes Survey questionnaire. Environmental opinion was operationally defined as responses to attitude and belief statements provided on the Likert-type scale section of the survey questionnaire. Attitudes are statements of how people feel about something, whereas beliefs are assessments of what a person thinks is true or false (Dillman 1978). The “mall test” was the baseline study to provide data for WJW-TV8 to broadcast. The “library test” was the postbroadcast survey administered at city and county libraries. Research Design Our study involved several research designs. First, we used descriptive survey research to explore and describe public knowledge of and opinions toward the Great Lakes. Second, an ex post facto relational study was conducted to explain the factors associated with public knowledge and opinions toward the Great Lakes. A one-page, two-sided written questionnaire was developed to collect data. Finally, the study involved experimental research using a posttest-only comparison group design. The treatment was exposure to a television broadcast of selected items from the Great Lakes Survey. The observations were scores on the broadcast items and nonbroadcast items of the knowledge section of the surveys completed over a 2-week period in May 1989 by 461 respondents at Cleveland libraries. Library respondents who watched the broadcast acted as their own comparison group because, in the treatment, they were exposed to only 4 of the 12 questions on the test instrument. Their scores on the broadcast items represent the observation of the treatment group, whereas their scores on the nonbroadcast items represent the observation of 24 JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION Downloaded by [University of Sussex Library] at 01:57 06 February 2015 the comparison group. The library respondents were not a random sample; rather, they self-selected to participate in the survey, either after viewing the broadcast, or as a result of posters at the libraries. Survey Development We developed knowledge questions for the survey based on significant Great Lakes issues identified by a panel of experts representing Great Lakes agencies and scientific institutions. A multiple-choice format such as that used in the National Environment Test (Lynch and Chandler 1971) and Arcury and Johnson’s (1987) statewide survey of public environmental knowledge was chosen as the most objective measure of environmental knowledge. Survey questions demonstrated either the importance of the Great Lakes as a resource or the extent of an environmental problem. Proposed survey questions and an issue list were sent to a second review panel of Great Lakes experts in four states and Ontario. This group examined the questions for accuracy, structure, vocabulary, and content validity, and the input was used to further revise the survey questions. Splithalf reliability on the total item pool during field testing was 0.72. We rewrote environmental opinion statements used in other studies to adapt them to the Great Lakes region. A Likert-scale format was chosen for the opinion statements, with respondents indicating on a scale of 1 to 5 whether they strongly agreed, agreed, were undecided or had no opinion, disagreed, or strongly disagreed with each statement. Survey review-panel responses to the opinion statements were considered the most appropriate response for each statement, and some statements were reverse coded for analysis. A respondent’s environmental opinion score was the mean of responses to the nine opinion statements, with 5 being the most positive score. A word checklist was developed based on an examination of the vocabulary used in the multiple-choice items and on existing environmental vocabulary tests (Buethe 1985; Buethe and Smallwood 1987). The purpose of the checklist was to determine what environmental terms the public reportedly understands and whether this understanding influences its ability to answer questions. Respondents indicated whether they did or did not understand each term. Word score was then computed as the total number of words each participant indicated knowing, out of 14 possible words. We used three parallel forms of the survey to increase the total number of multiple-choice questions and opinion statements that could be presented. Questions were divided among the forms with 12 multiple-choice items, nine opinion statements, and 14 vocabulary terms on each. Two knowledge questions, one attitude statement, and the vocabulary checklist were the same among the three forms. Demographic items provided information about where people got most of their information about the Great Lakes, whether they were members of an environmental, fishing, boating, or civic group, their age, sex, number of years of school completed, number of years lived in the study area, approximate annual family income, and which days they had viewed the WJW-TV8 broadcast. Shopping Mall Bmeline Study The survey was administered Saturday, 15 April, in two shopping areas in the city of Cleveland, Ohio, located on Lake Erie. We chose these malls to provide a range of socioeconomic levels and a racially mixed sample population. Surrounded by posters announcing the WJW-TV8 broadcast, survey administrators attempted to stop all adult shoppers as they passed by the survey tables to request their participation. The three survey forms were randomly distributed among shoppers. Shopping mall respondents’ answers to the questionnaires were scored for broadcast in the televised survey. The data from these 503 surveys provided baseline information concerning public knowledge of and opinions toward the lakes and gave an indication of the difficulty of the items. Television Broadcmt WJW-TV8 in Cleveland televised selected questions from the surveys, two per day on the 6:OO P.M. news, during the third week in May 1989, a ratings week for the television station. On Monday evening, the series was introduced by the president and station manager. WJW-TV8 treated this project as a major series for the week in which it was shown. The selected survey questions, followed by the four answer choices, were presented by the station’s meteorologist during the weather portion of the news. Written questions appeared on screen and were read by the meteorologist; then news personnel attempted to answer the questions. The correct answer was given, followed by the percentage of people who answered the question correctly in the shopping mall samples. In this way, viewers were able to compare their responses to those of other people. The station also presented a video segment to illustrate and expand on the issue or topic covered by the question. Each evening, viewers were invited and encouraged by the meteorologist to go to their local library to take the full survey from which the questions had been selected. Library Test Collection of public responses as an indication of the television news show’s educational impact was accomplished through survey forms available upon request at the Cleveland City and Cuyahoga County libraries. The surveys were distributed by library personnel to adults BROTHERS, FORTNER, and MAYER requesting them, and completed questionnaires were returned to the researchers at the end of the 2-week data collection period. Participants usually took about 10 minutes to complete the survey. As an incentive, all participants who returned a completed form received a “Lake Erie Guide and Game” family board game developed at The Ohio State University. They also received “The Lake Next Door” fact sheet containing the an‘swers to all the survey questions. Downloaded by [University of Sussex Library] at 01:57 06 February 2015 Results and Discussion Statistical analysis of the common items on the three survey forms indicated there were few significant or consistent differences between county and city library respondents, between respondents from the first and second weeks of the library survey, and between respondents taking each of the three survey forms. Data from all library respondents were therefore combined for analysis. Great Lakes Knowledge The mean knowledge score for the library respondents was 6.72, or 56% correct. We show item topics and percentage of correct responses in Table 1. The mean number of words library respondents claimed to understand was 9.16, or 65.4% of the terms. Of all the library respondents, 53.5% had watched at least one day of the broadcast; thus, they had been exposed to some of the survey questions. The entire series was viewed by 135 respondents. The demographic characteristic that most highly and most consistently correlated with knowledge score and words known was education (r = 0.34). Knowledge score was also correlated with number of words known (r = 0.36). This is not too surprising, as the multiplechoice questions and the vocabulary checklist were really both measures of what people know about the Great Lakes, with the checklist being a more subjective measure because respondents were asked to indicate what they thought they knew rather than to demonstrate what they actually knew. (Respondents may think they know what a word means when they actually do not, or they may be unwilling to indicate that they do not understand a term.) Correlations between respondents’ indication of whether or not they understood specific terms and whether or not they correctly answered knowledge questions using those terms were low. This may indicate that respondents were able to understand and respond to questions correctly even if they did not understand all the words used in the questions. It may also indicate that even if respondents understood the terms, they were unable to apply them in answering questions. 25 TABLE 1.-Knowledge Item Topics on the 1989 Great Lakes Survey, with Percentage of Cleveland Area Library Respondents Choosing Correct Answers to Multiple-Choice Items Correct answers Item m) Importance of Lake Erie in food fish 69.6 productiona Great Lakes’ share of North America’s 55.1 fresh water Most economical method of shipping goods Main products shipped on Great Lakesa Deposits of salt and natural gas under 90.7 92.6 91.7 Lake Eriea Major source of phosphorus in lakes Phosphorus level changes in last 15 years Nutrients monitored to prevent algae blooms Definition of eutrophication IJC to oversee uses of Great Lakes Management difficulty because of number of governments Greatest consumptive use of water 23.4 38.1 77.5 50.4 43.0 59.6 33.3 (municipal) Most common shoreline use (residential)a Waves cause most shore erosion” Human exposure to hazardous chemicals through fish Fish cooking to reduce contaminants Fish advisory in Lake Erie on carpa Air transport of toxics to upper lakes Dredging stirs up hazardous wastes Nuclear power plants use lake water for cooling Why sea lampreys were a problem in the lakes Fish endangered by loss of spawning areas Marshes disappearing by fmng in for construction Reason to protect estuaries Economic value of fisherp Fruit crops related to lake climatea Economic value of water-based recreation/ tourisma Cause of seasonal changes in lake levelsa Effect of proposed diversions of lake water Meaning of ecosystem approach DDT problems from air transport 35.8 80.8 15.7 44.2 86.9 8.6 64.1 76.0 53.8 63.9 49.1 80.6 52.2 45.1 41.7 78.7 37.8 65.9 9.2 aTelevised survey item Great Lakes Opinion Mean environmental opinion for the library respondents was 3.9 on a Likert scale of 1 to 5, with 5 representing the most favorable environmental opinion. This compares with 3.8 for the mall sample. Opinion items from the survey were not included in the broadcast; thus library respondents had not previously been exposed to Downloaded by [University of Sussex Library] at 01:57 06 February 2015 JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION this part of the questionnaire. This suggests that respondents who watched the broadcast and went to the library to take the survey may have held positive opinions even before watching the broadcast, and those opinions were shared widely in the area. Environmental opinion was most closely correlated with score on the knowledge items (r = 0.28), but number of words known (r = 0.15), and education level (r = 0.07) were only remotely related. Whereas males were significantly more knowledgeable environmentally than females (males 60% Correct, females 53%, p < 0.001), males and females were equally concerned about the environment and held similar environmental opinions (both sexes 3.9 out of 5). Males and females did not differ in information source used or in membership in fishing, boating, civic, or environmental groups; thus these factors did not explain the significant differences in knowledge or word scores between males and females. Information Source and Membership Television was the primary source of Great Lakes information for most respondents (44%), followed by newspapers (28%). Respondents who cited newspapers or lake activities as their primary information source scored significantly higher on the knowledge items and knew significantly more words than those who cited television (p < 0.01). There were no differences in mean opinion scores among respondents citing each of the six information sources (Table 2). Respondents who cited newspapers as information sources were significantly older and had significantly higher educational levels than those who cited television, museums, or other. These results are consistent with earlier studies finding that newspaper readers generally are more educated than people who use broadcast sources, especially for science topics (Ostman and Parker 1986; Larson, Zimmerman, and Scherer 1982). There were no differences among the six information groups in income or number of days viewing the broadcast. Five to ten percent of respondents indicated belonging to a fishing, boating, civic, or environmental group. Respondents who belonged to these groups tended to have higher knowledge scores, opinion scores, and word scores than nonmembers. Although members of such groups also tended to have higher educational levels overall, they did not appear to differ from nonmembers in other demographic characteristics. Previous studies have suggested that environmentally knowledgeable and concerned people often use specialized media sources, although this seems to depend on the sample selected (Larson, Zimmerman, and Scherer 1982). In this study, respondents who belonged to fishing and boating clubs cited lake activities as their information source more often than those who did not belong to such a club; otherwise, membership had only low or negligible correlations with information source cited. Media source for respondents in civic and environmental groups does not differ from that of a more general public. Impact of the Television News Program Because the library surveys included the 10 questions to which answers were given on television, it was expected that library respondents who had watched the broadcast would be able to answer those items correctly. The library surveys thus provided a measure of the station’s potential for educational impact on the community. They also demonstrated whether and how television can be used to enhance public information levels about the Great Lakes. Survey items were divided into two groups, broadcast and nonbroadcast questions. Each of the three survey forms contained four questions that had been broadcast on television and eight that had not been broadcast. Questionnaires were selected for comparing means based on the survey form completed and the days on which respondents had watched the broadcast. For example, because items 1, 9, 10, and 11 from form A were broadcast on Monday and Tuesday evenings, only form I TABLE 2.-Mean Knowledge Scores by Information Source Used TV Newspaper Magazine Lake Activities Museums Other I Knowledge N Mean SD 178 6.41a 2.05 114 7.00 2.04 24 6.67 2.12 34 7.5Cia 2.21 28 27 6.56 7.04 1.94 2.24 34 3.91 27 3.99 0.44 0.57 28 4.00 0.49 Opinions N 178 3.80 0.47 I I14 3.92 0.40 24 3.96 0.53 aGroups between which there was a significant difference. Downloaded by [University of Sussex Library] at 01:57 06 February 2015 BROTHERS, FORTNER, and MAYER A respondents who had actually watched the broadcast Monday and Tuesday evenings were selected. In this way, these library respondents served as their own control group because they had been exposed to the treatment, the WJW-TV8 broadcast, as measured by the broadcast items and not exposed to the treatment as measured by the nonbroadcast items. Library respondents watched a mean of 2.89 nights of the series. The statistical test used was a t test for paired samples, with alpha set a priori at .05. Combining the three forms of the survey, library respondents’ mean scores on the broadcast items were significantly higher than on the nonbroadcast items. However, it was possible that the broadcast items on the questionnaire were easier than the nonbroadcast ones, which would explain the higher scores on the broadcast items. To assess the difficulty of the questions, we also compared the mean knowledge scores on broadcast and nonbroadcast items for all of the mall respondents. For the mall sample, there was no significant difference in the means between the broadcast and nonbroadcast items (Table 3). Therefore, the higher scores on the broadcast items compared with the nonbroadcast items for the library respondents were most likely a result of the televised broadcast and not item difficulty. It is important to note here that the impact of the televised broadcast was not determined by comparing the mean knowledge scores of library and mall respondents. Library respondents scored significantly higher than mall respondents on the total knowledge score, the broadcast items, and the nonbroadcast items. These differences were probably caused by the demographic differences between the two sample populations and the fact that only the library respondents received the treatment. Impact of the televised broadcast was determined by comparing scores among the same population, the library respondents who had watched all of the relevant days of the broadcast. Because these respondents acted as their own comparison group, differences in mean scores resulted from the treatment, not the demographic differences. Higher scores .on the broadcast items than on the nonbroadcast items indicate that the broadcast was effective for that sample. Whereas library respondents who watched the broadcast were more knowledgeable and had more positive environmental opinions than library respondents who did not watch the broadcast or than mall respondents and, though there were a number of differencesbetween the groups in demographic characteristics, it seems reasonable to suggest that the knowledge scores of both these latter groups could also have been increased had they seen the televised broadcast. Recommendations for Further Research This study investigated the impact of a television news show on public environmental knowledge levels; how- 27 TABLE 3.-t Test Comparison of Knowledge Scores on Broadcast and Nonbroadcast Items by Library and Shoppiog Mall Respondents on the 1989 Great Lakes Survey Combined forms Broadcast Nonbroadcast Mall t test Library t test N M p N 135 570 2.8 2.0 .OO M p 1.8 1.7 .16 ever, it did not measure the impact of such a broadcast on opinions. This should be investigated in future studies. The sample populations used in this study limit the generalizability of the findings. Ideally, a more random sample of respondents should be used. Because the questions used on the library survey were identical to those on the broadcast, they really only measure respondents’ recall of the question and answer. Information gain and retention were only tested for a 2-week period. Future studies should investigate higher order learning resulting from television broadcasts and retention of such learning. In this study, we asked respondents to identify their primary source of Great Lakes information but only measured the impact of one of these sources in educating about the Great Lakes. Future studies should compare the relative effectiveness, in obtaining knowledge gain or opinion change, of different media sources providing the same information. We used only Pearson correlations and cross tabulations to measure relationships between environmental knowledge and opinion and demographic characteristics. Future studies should use multiple regression analysis in order to assess the relative contribution of each of these characteristics. Finally, this study focused on one population, people in the Cleveland, Ohio, metropolitan area. People in other areas of the Great Lakes basin may have different knowledge levels and environmental opinions, which investigators might study and analyze. Because the Great Lakes are a shared international resource, studies should also investigate whether Canadians differ from Americans in knowledge and opinions. Conclusions and Implications for Environmental Communications Our study provided information about what the public does and does not know and the opinions that people hold about critical environmental issues, many of which extend beyond the Great Lakes region. In addition, our research provided data concerning public media use in obtaining resource information. Such information about public knowledge, opinion, and media Downloaded by [University of Sussex Library] at 01:57 06 February 2015 28 JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION use should prove valuable to those concerned with public education and its role in resource management. Our study has also indicated that public knowledge levels about the Great Lakes in a lakeshore community are generally low, even among the volunteer respondents who came to libraries to participate; yet opinions about issues facing the lakes are generally environmentally favorable. Television, followed by newspapers, is the primary source of Great Lakes environmental information for the majority of the group studied. It is through this source that the adult public is learning about and forming opinions on the resources of and environmental issues facing the region. However, newspaper readers in this study tended to be more knowledgeable about the Great Lakes environment and to have higher educational levels than those who relied on television for information. Educational level was the demographic characteristic most closely associated with environmental knowledge and opinion. Focusing exclusively on newspapers as the medium for educating the public about the Great Lakes may then lead to an “information gap,” with those who are more knowIedgeable becoming even more informed while less knowledgeable people remain relatively uninformed (Bailey 1971). Television documentaries on the environment, often shown on public television stations, may have a similar effect if they are watched by those people who are already knowledgeable and concerned. This study attempted to reach a more general adult public by using a local network television news show to convey information about the Great Lakes. Still, the group that voluntarily responded was older, better educated, and had a 30% higher income level than the most recent census figures for the county in which the research was done. Results showed that the news show broadcast was indeed effective in increasing knowledge levels among those who viewed the broadcast, but because of the sample characteristics, the estimate of knowledge is probably high compared to the public at large. To the extent that the television news show viewership is representative of the general public, the TV news format can be an effective way to educate the public about the Great Lakes and about environmental issues. Environmental coverage and reporting on television has increased over the past few years, with magazine news programs covering environmental issues in detail. Several news series focusing on the environment are also in production. According to the National Wildlife Federation (1989), although the environment ranked 13th out of 18 categories in network news coverage in 1988, air time dealing with the environment increased from 68 minutes in the first quarter of the year to 150 minutes in the fourth quarter. The dramatically increased environmental coverage surrounding Earth Day 1990 was further evidence of this trend. WQED’s executive vice-president Thomas Skinner, in discussing the role of television in reporting environmental issues, stated, “We’ve saturated the market with programs that tell us how wonderful the natural world is. There isn’t a night that goes by without PBS viewers seeing something that swims, flies, crawls, or runs over the landscape. People’s awareness has been heightened. There aren’t a lot of animals and habitats left to report on. Environmental coverage is the next step, the next generation of this kind of material” (Daviss 1988, p. 6). According to the present study, news programming could take an effective lead in such coverage. Fred Jerome, executive vice-president of the Scientist’s Institute for Public Information, has said, “For the vast majority of the American public, the TV set is the only teacher. . . .The medium that more than any other molds the American consciousness is television. I’m talking about commercial television” (SIP1 1989, p. 9). A review of the resource and environmental issues addressed in this survey shows clearly that they extend beyond the Great Lakes basin. Loss of wetlands, endangered species, toxic materials, eutrophication, agricultural runoff, air pollution, pesticides, exotic species, water use, energy production, shoreline erosion, and land development are problems and issues facing much of the country. Great Lakes environmental communication is not just about regional issues but about the entire spectrum of environmental concerns as they are evidenced in the relative microcosm of the Great Lakes. 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