(Dis)empowering agents of change a study of the Athens messenger's reporting on coal mining practices and their environmental impact from the 1960s to the 1990s

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in English


Department of English


Advisor: Susan Trollinger


At the national level, the modern environmental movement and the environmental justice movement sparked increasing public awareness of threats to the environment and encouraged environmental policy changes from the 1960s to the 1990s. This study analyzes the Appalachian newspaper the Athens Messenger to identify the ways in which at the local level the paper's reporting reflected the movements' environmental concerns, in particular concerns regarding coal mining practices in rural communities, during these decades. Given the amount of national attention paid to environmental concerns from the 1960s to the 1990s, it would be reasonable to expect to find shifts in attitudes and policies reflected in the Athens Messenger's reporting, as well as to find the newspaper's rhetoric encouraging its readers to act as political agents for environmental change. The findings of this thesis indicate otherwise. Analysis of the Athens Messenger's reporting from the 1960s to the 1990s shows that despite the increasing awareness on a national level regarding environmental concerns, reporting in this regional newspaper on coal mining practices and related issues during these decades did not reflect the broader change in environmental awareness. Even more, analysis of the rhetorical strategies employed in the reporting indicates that the paper articulated readers to be less inclined toward taking political action on behalf of environmental concerns regarding coal mining practices.


Athens Messenger (Newspaper), Journalism Objectivity Appalachian Region 20th century, Coal mines and mining 20th century Press coverage Appalachian Region, Coal mines and mining Appalachian Region 20th century Public opinion, Anti-environmentalism Appalachian Region 20th century, Environmental justice Appalachian Region 20th century

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