Canyonlands Research Bibliography


Environmental Journalism and Utah's National Parks, 1919--1971

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Environmental journalism history extends well before the 1960s. Only recently have researchers begun to examine it. This dissertation contributes to the understanding of that evolution by examining news coverage of Utah's five national parks from 1919 to 1971. Specifically, it looks at coverage from two newspapers published in Utah, The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News , and two outside the state, The New York Times and the San Francisco Examiner . Utah newspapers suggest that the boosterism of the frontier press was present but waning when Zion National Park (1919) was established. These newspapers presented the park as validation for the state's membership in the Union and balm for its cultural anxiety. In The New York Times , Zion was presented as evidence of the nation's greatness as equal to the culture, arts, and architecture of Europe. Foremost, however, the parks were covered as an economic venture. Reporting on Bryce Canyon National Park (1923-1928) suggests that boosterism continued its declining trajectory. Unlike reporting on Zion, signs of tensions emerged as national park designation competed with land ownership and development. National pride was reflected in The New York Times and the San Francisco Examiner , while state pride continued to permeate reporting from Utah's newspapers. Coverage of Canyonlands National Park (1964) delved into political minutiae. However, it also suggested that the national park idea was evolving to consider a broader scope of what a park would protect. The way the park was reported suggests boosterism was replaced by a journalism that reported divergent views but provided little or no analysis. In news accounts, the language used to describe the land faded from unabashed awe to detached descriptions. News coverage of both Capitol Reef and Arches national parks (1971) shows that the sentiments of state and national pride that had basked in the boosterism of a fading frontier press disappeared and a view emerged that the state was a victim of tourism. This coverage also focused on Washington politics. At the same time, a nuanced voice emerged that began to consider the environment as a subject rather than a stage for debate.


Publisher: University of Utah

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