Media’s Effect on the Public Opinion

How the media covers the many issues surrounding natural gas pipelines has the potential to affect how readers view the controversy. Negative or positive headlines, an obvious bias in the article, an imbalance of sources, among other things, can skew the thoughts and opinions of the readers. Of course, different media outlets cover the same topics in a variety of ways. If one were to look at three different newspapers in one area, he or she would realize that the writers focus on different aspects and sometimes seem to lean on one side of the argument depending on the sources or the language the writer uses.

Most of the pipelines that have been prominently covered by news media, including the Keystone XL, the Atlantic Sunrise, and the PennEast, are now under greater scrutiny because their builders want to extend their lengths.

After the media first announced the expansions, the newspapers reported on a range of different effects that the pipelines were having. These included political, environmental, economic and personal implications. As the proposals now go through the state and national governments, the politics of the issue have taken the forefront during the election seasons. The media has also heavily covered the potentially harmful environmental impact and negative effect on home values.

The Keystone pipeline was proposed to expand across multiple Midwestern states, starting in Alberta, Canada, going through Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and ending in Texas. Because the Keystone pipeline crosses more land in the United States, it gained much more national coverage than the other pipelines. It fell under the jurisdiction of the US Department of State in 2013 and recently rejected by President Barack Obama. 

National newspapers such as The New York Times and USA Today have been covering the progress of the Keystone pipeline since it was proposed, but smaller and local newspapers have also extensively covered the issue with an outlook that is more sensitive to local areas. These newspapers include the Lincoln Star Online, a newspaper based in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Independent Record, based in Helena, Montana.