Pipeline Runs Through “News Deserts”

In their February 21, 2020 article, A pipeline runs through Southern news deserts, the Columbia Journalism Review discusses the ways in which the dearth of local news outlets means Dominion and Duke can “shape the pipeline narrative.”

The article points out that “”All three states crossed by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have a dearth of local newspapers, according to the UNC report. The counties along the route are some of the most rural and economically depressed parts of the US, in a region that is historically reliant on extractive fossil fuels. In North Carolina, seven of the eight counties the proposed pipeline would run through are predominantly black. These places lack consistent, informative local coverage of energy, justice, and the environment because of the declining number and resources of print news outlets, shifting the balance of news sources toward expanding corporate media monopolies. The areas are also overlooked by national media, which mostly parachute in to cover major updates or catastrophes or if they need a tie-in to President Trump’s policies—a dynamic that can perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes about these places.”

The article continues, “The absence leaves ample space for powerful campaigns by Duke and Dominion, the pipeline’s developers and buyers of its natural gas, as well as industry-aligned lobbyists and politicians, to shape the pipeline narrative. Another result is misinformation and confusion about the status of a massive energy project that affects tens of thousands of people, several endangered species, and a variety of fragile ecosystems. The number of permanent jobs the pipeline is estimated to create varies, depending on whom you speak with. In some cases, property owners have been caught unaware of their rights or legal options when Dominion came knocking to claim eminent domain.”

And, “The weekly newspapers serving these counties have published dozens of stories pitting pipeline opponents against economic development officials. Many contain important project updates that readers wouldn’t find anywhere else, but others essentially serve as press releases for Dominion Energy without interrogating claims the company makes about job creation, environmental impacts, and legal challenges.”

Read the full article here.