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Public Perceptions

Investigating How the Media and Public View Biofuels

Understanding what people have to say about biofuels can help gauge the acceptability of biofuels production in the Northwest. People who read and comment on online biofuel articles are obviously interested in and concerned about biofuels. We refer to this group of people as the issue public. The media has a considerable effect on people’s attitudes, making the issue public an important stakeholder group. We are exploring public views in online news articles, websites, blogs, user generated content, radio, and television to develop an in-depth understanding of people’s perceptions of and attitudes towards biofuels.

As part of the assessment, we will conduct a computer-assisted content analysis of over 1,000 news sources to identify the perceived benefits and legitimate concerns expressed in the news media. We have already completed a thematic analysis of user generated content produced in response to news sources, as well as direct statements made by stakeholder constituents. These will be used in a further study to help us identify areas of disagreement and consensus among key stakeholders in the biofuels sector.

Bar graph showing how frequently various perceived benefits of poplar biofuels are mentioned by the media.
Frequency of expression of sub-themes related to the broad theme of perceived benefits.

Bar graph showing how frequently various perceived problems and costs of poplar biofuels are mentioned by the media.
Frequency of expression of sub-themes related to the broad theme of perceived problems and costs.
Washington State University