This study focuses on the analysis of local and national media contents circulated within Ontario with the aim of understanding: 1) dominant media frames around risks and benefits associated with wind energy development and 2) the (de)legitimization of various stakeholder voices and perspectives within the media; 3) the experiences of wind energy developers within Ontario and how they relate to media coverage.
Several scholars have attempted to explain the (un)successful deployment of wind energy by studying public perceptions of and reactions to the technology. To date, however, a majority of studies continue to focus on the role of specific issues (e.g., visual perceptions, financial incentives, political factors, health) in shaping responses to the technology to the neglect of broader multicausal factors and processes that determine these responses. Additionally, important factors which could influence deployment such as media discourse and developer perspectives have received very scant attention within the research community. With these contexts in mind, this study will seek to understand the role of the media in shaping public perceptions of the technology, understand how various stakeholder perspectives are represented in the media and, understand the experiences of wind energy developers within the province. Driven by Luhmann's Ecological Communication theory and the Socio-Political Evaluation of Energy Deployment (SPEED) framework which call for a holistic understanding of environmental issues and renewable energy deployment respectively, the study will focus on economic, political, health, environmental, aesthetic, wildlife and environmental factors and the interplay thereof.
The research has two major components: (1) media content analysis which will show trends in various media frames (2) interviews with wind energy development organizations across Ontario.
The research will help with our understanding of the level of balance given to various issues within media reports and how media contents have the potential to shape public perceptions of wind energy development, renewable energy policies and various stakeholders who are directly or indirectly involved in the development process. The study will also contribute to our understanding of how various stakeholders (e.g., grassroots citizen groups, developers, government officials) are (mis)represented within the media and understand how various risks and benefits associated with the technology are legitimized within media reports.
The second component of the study which is concerned with developer perspectives will help unearth the perspectives and experiences of various development organizations across Ontario. Traditionally, research on the social aspects of wind energy development has blamed unsuccessful development(s) on public resistance to the technology. This perspective has recently undergone intense criticisms. This study will therefore provide new and very useful insights by highlighting roadblocks to successful deployment from the perspective of developers.