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The role of scientists in forest fire media discourse and its potential influence for policy-agenda setting in Indonesia

Ekayani, Meti, Nurrochmat, Dodik Ridho, Darusman, Dudung
Forest policy and economics 2016 v.68 pp. 22-29
environmental impact, forest fires, humans, issues and policy, news media, scientists, stakeholders, Indonesia
Forest fire is one of the most important issues discussed in international and national news media, because of its significant human and environmental impacts; these fires generate social, economic, and ecological problems that spread across national borders. Mediating these problems requires effective and applicable policy, formulated from a sound base of evidence. Thus, the quality of information is of primary importance in formulating appropriate forest fire combating policy. While the media is obligated to provide credible information, it often does so without scientific expertise. This study indicates that most interviewed stakeholders believe that scientists can deliver reliable information in policy agenda-setting, and therefore, the voices of scientists in the media have the potential to influence policy agenda-setting through their role as “issue advocates”. This study, however, confirms that the news media does not recognize the knowledge of scientists as the most reliable reference in forest fire discourse. The weak “knowledge utilization” of news' substance is reflected in the minimal coverage of scientists in media discourses. This study examines the presentation of scientists in forest fire media discourse and stakeholders' perceptions of this presentation, in order to analyze the role of scientists in forest fire media discourse and its potential to influence and set policy agendas in Indonesia.