Media stories about wolves have become more negative

JB’s research shows wolf stories are most negative in places where they are just beginning to colonize-

Our own JB (Jeremy T. Bruskotter) and colleagues have just had their article “Attitudes Toward Wolves in the United States and Canada: A Content Analysis of the Print News Media, 1999-2008” published in the refereed Journal, Human Dimensions of Wildlife.

Here is a n news story about it stressing the Montana angle, although the data was gathered from all over. Wolf Story Time: Researchers Measure Views in MT News. Public News Service.

“Bruskotter notes there are some who argue that the views contained in news stories mirror public opinion, but he points out that separate public opinion research doesn’t support that claim. He believes no matter what the views portrayed in the news coverage, they affect public opinion.”

Here is a brief summary of the study’s findings (beyond those reported in the article above).  The summary is written by JB.



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  1. JimT Avatar

    If you repeat a lie, or sensationalize a story to sell a product, it tends to stick after awhile, unfortunately. Negative political campaigning has demonstrated this over and over again. Media in general seems to be more interested in generating buzz for their efforts rather than getting a story reported fairly and fully. And given the politics in the three main states affected by wolf reintroduction, and given the swift blackmailing attempt by FWP over a research report, all of these thing will tend to have a chilling effect on stating the truth.

  2. JB Avatar

    Thanks for posting the link, Ralph. One of the aspects of this data that I found very compelling is the differences we found between states & provinces with permanent wolf populations and those with reintroduced or naturally-recovering populations–the latter had more negatively valenced comments. From our perspective, this suggested there is something about wolves being relatively “new” on the landscape that is eliciting this strong response, though it could also be related to the lack of “control” people have due to their endangered status.

    Note: an early version of the paper we recently published is available if you follow Ralph’s link.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan