‘I’d like to report a suspicious looking tree’: public concern, public attention and the nature of reporting about ash dieback in the UK

Fellenor, John, Barnett, Julie, Potter, Clive, Urquhart, Julie ORCID: 0000-0001-5000-4630, Mumford, J.D., Quine, C.P. and Raum, Susanne (2019) ‘I’d like to report a suspicious looking tree’: public concern, public attention and the nature of reporting about ash dieback in the UK. Public Understanding of Science, 28 (3). pp. 339-356. doi:10.1177/0963662518814369

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‘Public concern’, a ubiquitous notion used in descriptive and explanatory modes by policymakers, academics, and the media, is often presented as axiomatic. However, the variability with which it is deployed in different contexts, e.g. as justification for policy attention or having equivalence with what is considered ‘newsworthy’, belies this status. This paper presents an empirical analysis of emails and phone calls from the UK public, to UK government agencies, reporting suspected cases of ash dieback disease; a tree health issue which attracted intense media and policy attention in the UK in 2012. We challenge the view that public attentiveness is necessarily indicative of public concern, or that media attention can be taken as its proxy. Examination of concern at macro and micro levels reveals heterogeneous processes with multiple dimensions. Understanding the nature of public concern is crucial in enabling more effective policy development and operational responses to risk related issues.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Public concern; Helplines; Tree health; Publics; Risk; REF2021
Related URLs:
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management > HD61 Risk in industry. Risk management
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
S Agriculture > SB Plant culture > SB481 Parks and public reservations
S Agriculture > SD Forestry
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > Countryside and Community Research Institute
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Imogen Young
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2018 11:34
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2022 13:31
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/6201

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