Posted by: soniahs | June 18, 2010

AESS conference: day 1

I’ve been attending the AESS conference in Portland, seeing some interesting talks and participating in some thoughtful discussions. My session is tomorrow, bright and early at 8 am. Here’s my talk abstract:

“Strategies and tactics for environmental communication in the online realm”

Traditional environmental outreach uses two types of communication: large-scale mass media outreach to large segments of the population, and local-scale dialogue-based outreach that approaches problems at the community level.  While large-scale outreach can influence public opinion over large geographic distances, it is difficult to translate changes in opinion into meaningful local action.  For local-scale outreach, the opposite is true.  As an alternative to these two models, many environmental organizations turn to the Internet to create a new dialogic space for large-scale public outreach efforts.

Website creators have to take into account many aspects of a website in order to effectively project an environmental message to its intended audience.  These include low-level tactical features like accuracy and timeliness of information, usability, and artistic design, as well as high-level strategic features such as the overall framing of the organization’s message.  Message framing is particularly important because it should drive the overall narrative of the website and guide lower-level tactical decisions.

This presentation will explore and show examples of the tools available for framing environmental communication in an online new media setting, and discuss how they differ from traditional mass media framing tools.  For websites, the four key elements that can be used for framing the organization’s overall message are language, links, images, and interactivity.  While language and images are important parts of traditional mass media, links and interactivity are to a large extent unique to online media.  Links and interactivity also help build the desired dialogic online space for public outreach.

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