About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4190-4198
Publication year: 2009
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain

POSITIONING ENVIRONMENTAL JOURNALISM: DOES TRADE NEWS MAKE GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEMS INTO GATES TO ENTER OR BARRIERS TO BLOCKADE THE NATURAL WORLD? AN ANALYSIS OF U.S. TRADE PRESS ARTICLES, 1995-2008

R. Doherty1, K. Barnhurst2

1University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UNITED STATES)
2University of Illinois at Chicago (UNITED STATES)
Developed by the U.S. military for navigation and to guide missiles to their targets, the global positioning system (GPS) opened to commercial/consumer use in the mid-1990s. GPS navigation gained popularity in the United States over the next decade, moving from the high-end specialty market to the mass consumer electronics market. GPS manufacturers captured initial interest in the United States with visibility principally through trade and consumer journalism.

Nature-human interfaces in GPS and news seek to change the base of public knowledge. Rhetoric does the same, and so looking at the rhetoric of journalism about GPS sheds light on the discourse of environmental change. Does journalism about the use of GPS units, a futuristic tool for finding one’s way, encourage getting out and interacting with the environment, or does journalism get consumers engaged with the technology, interacting with GPS unit instead of with the natural world? How might news rhetoric about GPS contribute to either scenario?

A review of the research literature reveals interest in GPS from the field of cultural studies, looking at cars and driving; from the field of criminal justice for tracking individuals; sociology for aspects of safety, with parents tracking of children; business and advertising in the growth of sales of GPS; healthcare and emergency medicine for locating victims and improving response time; technology and computing for the uses and interfaces. But only one article addresses the discourse of GPS, examining the militarization of consumer identity (Kaplan, 2006). The study of GPS discourse has not kept pace with the ubiquity of the technology in everyday life.

This essay begins from a critical theory perspective, especially the concept of telos, in which dominance and freedom are two strands of the same line of power. The approach is useful to look at how facets of power draw in the consumer. The research method is a close rhetorical reading of recreation, consumer electronics, and trade magazine articles beginning with the introduction of GPS in 1995 and ending with its widespread diffusion by 2008 in the United States.

In the decade from first introduction in specialty venues to mass marketing in general venues, the journalistic discourse began with a focus on recreation and getting out into nature bu ended with a focus on practical utility with a safety component. The original focus of GPS journalism proposed a way to expand the range and freedom of, for example, naturalists and outdoor adventurers. GPS was an adjunct to the user’s main interest in nature itself. The new focus suggests, for instance, that a driver saves time and effort by avoiding traffic. It implies that the old technologies for navigating, using maps, or getting directions, are less efficient and that the new technology requires less knowledge of the world.

Developed countries have a renewed interest in the environment with global climate change, and yet over the last decade Americans are spending less time outdoors. Environmental communication and nature-human interfaces should be key areas of journalism research. A critical examination of the rhetoric of GPS compares the earlier specialty discourse to the mass-market discourse to discover changes in the nature-human nexus. It appears that journalism about GPS technology may lead the public to become oblivious to the local environment they inhabit and, in turn, to the changes taking place in the global environment.
@InProceedings{DOHERTY2009POS,
author = {Doherty, R. and Barnhurst, K.},
title = {POSITIONING ENVIRONMENTAL JOURNALISM: DOES TRADE NEWS MAKE GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEMS INTO GATES TO ENTER OR BARRIERS TO BLOCKADE THE NATURAL WORLD? AN ANALYSIS OF U.S. TRADE PRESS ARTICLES, 1995-2008},
series = {2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2009 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-613-2953-3},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {16-18 November, 2009},
year = {2009},
pages = {4190-4198}}
TY - CONF
AU - R. Doherty AU - K. Barnhurst
TI - POSITIONING ENVIRONMENTAL JOURNALISM: DOES TRADE NEWS MAKE GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEMS INTO GATES TO ENTER OR BARRIERS TO BLOCKADE THE NATURAL WORLD? AN ANALYSIS OF U.S. TRADE PRESS ARTICLES, 1995-2008
SN - 978-84-613-2953-3/2340-1095
PY - 2009
Y1 - 16-18 November, 2009
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2009 Proceedings
SP - 4190
EP - 4198
ER -
R. Doherty, K. Barnhurst (2009) POSITIONING ENVIRONMENTAL JOURNALISM: DOES TRADE NEWS MAKE GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEMS INTO GATES TO ENTER OR BARRIERS TO BLOCKADE THE NATURAL WORLD? AN ANALYSIS OF U.S. TRADE PRESS ARTICLES, 1995-2008, ICERI2009 Proceedings, pp. 4190-4198.
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