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Constructing the Ring of Fire : the journalist's story Turner, Logan 2021

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  CONSTRUCTING THE RING OF FIRE: THE JOURNALIST’S STORY by LOGAN TURNER  B.Soc.Sc., University of Ottawa, 2017 M.Sc., McMaster University, 2018  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF JOURNALISM in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  April 2021  © Logan Turner, 2021 ii    The following individuals certify that they have read, and recommend to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for acceptance, the thesis entitled:    Constructing the Ring of Fire: The Journalist’s Story                                                                    . submitted by   Logan Turner                            in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of    Master of Journalism                                                                                              . in    Journalism                                                                                                               .  Examining Committee:   Peter Klein, School of Journalism, Writing, and Media, UBC                                                       .    Supervisor   Terre Satterfield, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, UBC                         .   Supervisory Committee Member       iii  Abstract Situated deep in the homelands of First Nations in Treaty 9 territory in the James Bay Lowlands of northern Ontario, the Ring of Fire is a mineral-rich area discovered in 2007 and quickly declared by politicians and mining companies as Canada’s “next oilsands” and “the most promising mineral development opportunity in Ontario in over a century.” These bold declarations have been repeated over and again by political and economic actors, often without critical interrogation by journalists reporting on the mineral discovery. This begs the research question: how does the news media shape and construct the understanding of natural resource extraction projects within the Canadian context? Set within a complex web of competing claim-makers in the resource periphery of northern Ontario, this thesis conducts a content analysis of digital news stories published about the Ring of Fire by the publicly funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation between 2010 and 2018. The research finds that overwhelmingly the Ring of Fire is constructed by journalists as an economic opportunity promising jobs, increased access to transportation and improvement of quality of life for Indigenous and non-Indigenous inhabitants of the area, and a project dependent on political action. But this is the picture painted largely by male, non-Indigenous, political or economic elites, as the major sources quoted in coverage largely driven by political and economic events, announcements and activities, as opposed to original, critical journalism. This relative lack of diverse perspectives, sources and drivers of coverage raises difficult questions for Canadian journalists reporting on a divisive industry with social, health, economic, ecological and legal implications. It pushes practicing journalists to re-consider how their coverage constructs the public imaginary of place, natural resources, and resource peripheries in Canada.        iv  Lay Summary Premised on the idea that journalists help the public to understand and interpret complicated issues and events, this research explores how journalists write about and explain natural resource developments in remote locations in Canada. Specifically, this thesis looks at the example of the Ring of Fire, a large area in Treaty 9 territory in northern Ontario that holds vast mineral resources discovered in 2007. With concerns raised by other academics about the simplicity of news coverage, this thesis has the goal of deeply understanding who journalists rely on as sources, what motivates a journalist to write a news story, and what aspects of natural resources development dominate in news coverage. This research will hopefully challenge journalists to reconsider their daily news-making decisions and seek to diversify the perspectives and sources they include in their coverage of complex topics.                v  Preface This thesis is original, unpublished, independent work by the author, Logan Turner. The coding process was completed using a University of British Columbia student license of the NVivo Pro software.                      vi  Table of Contents  Abstract ......................................................................................................................................... iii Lay Summary ............................................................................................................................... iv Preface ............................................................................................................................................ v Table of Contents ......................................................................................................................... vi List of Tables .............................................................................................................................. viii List of Figures ............................................................................................................................... ix Acknowledgments ......................................................................................................................... x 1 Introduction ........................................................................................................................... 1 2 Literature Review .................................................................................................................. 3 2.1 A brief review of environmental journalism literature ..................................................... 3 2.2 The competition to define the value of natural resources ................................................ 7 2.3 Journalism’s role in imagining the periphery ................................................................... 9 2.4 National broadcaster as facilitator of State formation .................................................... 11 3 Research Question and Methods ........................................................................................ 15 3.1 Event-based, authority-heavy coverage: the research question and hypotheses ............ 15 3.2 The methodology: a content analysis ............................................................................. 15 3.3 The Ring of Fire: a case study ........................................................................................ 16 3.4 The data source: online news stories by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation ........ 18 3.5 A content analysis: the coding framework ..................................................................... 18 3.6 Methodological rigour: focusing on validity and reliability .......................................... 24 3.7 Navigating the insider-outsider perspective ................................................................... 25 4 Research Findings................................................................................................................ 27 4.1 Coverage of the Ring of Fire: The articles ..................................................................... 27 4.2 Politics and economics dominated coverage of the Ring of Fire ................................... 29 vii  4.3 First it was a story of economic potential, then of political (in)action ........................... 32 4.4 Journalists overwhelmingly source politicians, men and non-Indigenous people ......... 35 4.5 A wide range of drivers of news coverage ..................................................................... 40 5 Discussion of Findings ......................................................................................................... 45 5.1 The Ring of Fire: A place of imagined and untold riches .............................................. 46 5.2 Economic prosperity as source of story recall ............................................................... 48 5.3 Growing politicization of environmental stories ............................................................ 50 5.4 Building in more Indigenous voices............................................................................... 51 6 Conclusion ............................................................................................................................ 54 Bibliography ................................................................................................................................ 56             viii  List of Tables Table 3.1       Possible dimensions or elements included within the coverage ............................. 22 Table 3.2       Types of sources included within the coverage ...................................................... 23 Table 3.3       Exploring the purpose for the story to be written ................................................... 24 Table 4.1       When the news stories were published ................................................................... 27 Table 4.2       Where the stories were published ........................................................................... 28 Table 4.3       Who wrote the articles? .......................................................................................... 28 Table 4.4       The relative presence of each theme among the news articles ............................... 30 Table 4.5       Development of themes in Ring of Fire coverage over time .................................. 32 Table 4.6       The sources relied upon in Ring of Fire news coverage ......................................... 36 Table 4.7       Total number of sources by gender and Indigenous identity .................................. 37 Table 4.8       Drivers of Ring of Fire Coverage ........................................................................... 41            ix  List of Figures Figure 4.1       Relative number of codes assigned to one theme as percentage of total ............... 31 Figure 4.2       The development of themes over time, as present in the Ring of Fire coverage .. 33 Figure 4.3       The relative frequency each type of source was used ........................................... 38 Figure 4.4       How the drivers of Ring of Fire coverage have developed over time ................... 42                 x  Acknowledgments This graduate journalism program at the University of British Columbia afforded the opportunity to think deeply, ask enduring questions, and explore big ideas. What I’ve learned is that originality is a central tenet of both journalism and academia, but so is feasibility. This thesis has taken on a number of shapes and sizes inside my head over the course of two years, but I owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Mary Lynn Young for her patience and guidance on the path toward completion. A sincere thanks are owed to Peter Klein and Dr. Terre Satterfield for their generosity and support in helping me over the finish line. I am also extremely grateful for the many inspiring and challenging conversations before and after class with my other UBC Journalism professors and peers that inspired this work and more. Journalism is a hard thing to do, but I am excited about the possibilities opened up because of your care, energy, and determination to always do better. And of course, I wouldn’t be here at all if it weren’t for the love and support of my parents, my family and my friends. Who knows, maybe if I wasn’t asked on a weekly basis how my thesis was going, I never would have finished. Lots of love always.         1  1 Introduction  The Ring of Fire, throughout its already long lifespan, has been called many things. During its early days, the large mineral deposit nestled in the James Bay Lowlands in northern Ontario, was called “the most promising mineral development opportunity in a century” by former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty (Porter 2011), and then-federal Treasury Board President and Conservative Member of Parliament Tony Clement said the Ring of Fire’s economic potential “is right in line with the [Alberta] oil sands” (Hjartarson et al. 2014). McGuinty’s successor as premier, Kathleen Wynne, similarly said, “the Ring of Fire represents an unprecedented economic and jobs opportunity for the North” (Giovanetti 2017). A range of reports and boastful claims have suggested the Ring of Fire could generate up to $60 billion in economic activity and support mining operations for 100 years in the region (Gamble 2017). And famously, Ontario’s current Premier Doug Ford has claimed he would “hop on that bulldozer [him]self,” if that’s what it takes to open up the Ring of Fire for economic development (Dillman 2018).  These quick one-liners, big promises and even bigger numbers are attractive, easy to remember, and make for catchy news headlines. But they also shape the public’s understanding of a place, an event, or a thing. It can be expected that politicians rely on this level of simplistic rhetoric as claim-makers within the public arena, but it can be problematic if the news media “parrots” the information without critically interrogating and challenging the claims.   This becomes especially concerning in the case of proposed natural resource developments in Canada, most of which take place in resource peripheries far removed from centres of population and power. Indeed, resource geographers understand resource peripheries as places of increasing contention and dispute, as a range of actors seek to define and promulgate their understandings of land and natural resources (Hayter et al. 2013). While Canada’s considerable reserves of natural resources has enabled socio-economic development for certain segments of the population, there is an increasingly public debate about the value and risks of continued resource extraction (Gibson & Klinck 2005). This debate is taking place within the context of climate change and ongoing disputes about the Canadian State’s colonial approach to governance and ignorance of Indigenous sovereignty (Gibson & Klinck 2005). Yet, the literature on environmental journalism – and natural resource journalism as a category that falls within – suggests that this field of reporting is 2  characterized by over-simplification, including a tendency to lean on the environment/economy dichotomy; a reliance on authorities; and event-based coverage (Tran 2014). Building on the social constructivist approach relied on by many journalism studies scholars specifically in the area of environmental journalism, this study will ask the broad research question: how does the news media shape and construct the understanding of natural resource extraction projects within the Canadian context? Situating the article within the literature on environmental journalism studies, this article proposes to contribute to this body of knowledge by drawing on theories of resource geography, resource peripheries and the relationship between journalism and place. Specifically, this project will use the case study of the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario, a planned mining development project with some of the largest chromium deposits in the world (Hjartarson, McGuinty & Boutilier 2014), to explore what themes characterize the reporting of natural resources in digital stories by the country’s public broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Given the influence that media has in shaping public perceptions and policy agendas (Happer & Philo 2013), especially when it comes to the environment (Hansen 2011), this research is important to determine how news media constructs the value of and may shape public understanding of natural resources.  The thesis is broken down into several sections. First, a brief literature review will be conducted that explores the existing academic discussions about environmental journalism in North America; the competition between a complex and inter-related web of perspectives seeking to define natural resources; and the role of news media – in particular the national broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – in promulgating colonial narratives of identity and unity and its role in facilitating resource extraction. In the methodology section, the case study of the Ring of Fire will be introduced, as will the qualitative coding methodology and coding sheet. Chapter 4 will present the findings, which will then be situated within the context of the literature, before the thesis offers some concluding remarks and direction for future avenues of research.     3  2 Literature Review  The first part of this paper will set the context in which this thesis aims to contribute. Of course, the Ring of Fire and natural resource journalism fits within the broader literature on environmental journalism. Key themes are explored first, before the attention turns to natural resource journalism in the Canadian context, which is relatively understudied. This literature review hopes to make a valuable contribution by bridging journalism studies with the constructivist tradition in the field of resource geography, especially in resource peripheries, and how that is related to the role that journalists play in imagining and constructing place for their audiences. The review will then conclude with a focus on the source of news articles for this thesis – Canada’s national broadcaster, the CBC – and its role in promulgating the colonial State’s agenda. 2.1 A brief review of environmental journalism literature  In his comprehensive review of the role that news media plays in communicating environmental issues, Maxwell Boykoff (2009) writes that journalistic interest in covering environmental problems took off in the mid-1900s as academics began to learn more about the relationship between human activities and the natural environment. In his foundational textbook, Robert Cox (2013) attributes this burgeoning interest to the rise of the ecology movement, with an early peak of interest coming after Earth Day in the early 1970s. While news interest in the environment ebbed and flowed for the remainder of the century, Cox writes that news interest peaked again in 1989 after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska (2013). After a decade of limited interest, North American journalists once again turned their attention en masse toward the environment at the turn of the century when U.S. President George W. Bush began to roll back environmental protections, and later in the 2000s as the issue of “global warming” subsumed global attention following the release of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report in early 2007 (Cox 2013). Both the documentary and the report clearly laid out the role of human activities, especially greenhouse gas emissions, on increases in global temperatures (Cox 2013). Even that attention was brief, as a study of global newspaper coverage of climate change shows that the economic crisis of 2008 displaced much of the focus on environmental issues (Boykoff 2009). Throughout these decades of fluctuating global interest in environmental topics, the role of news media has largely been to bring awareness about environmental issues and to provide a space for public actors to make competing claims about how the environment is and should be used (Hansen 2011). Of course, the category 4  of environmental topics is quite the large catch-all. But environmental news coverage, and corresponding academic studies of the coverage, largely have focused on climate change, genetically modified organisms, environmental disasters like earthquakes, energy issues like nuclear power and hazardous waste, and connections to public health issues (Boykoff 2009; Hansen 2011; Tran 2014). Of note for this thesis, mineral extraction is not included in these lists.  While this is admittedly a brief, high-level overview of the history of environmental journalism writ large – and does rely primarily on American authors, given the dearth of longitudinal studies of environmental reporting in Canada – it’s relevant for this thesis both as an introduction to the literature review and because this history itself is representative of several themes that commonly characterize environmental journalism. As Lor Tran summarizes in her thesis (2014), the literature on environmental journalism offers three dominant characteristics: that coverage is largely (perhaps unsurprisingly) driven by events; environmental issues are frequently framed by political or economic considerations; and environmental issues are oversimplified. Indeed, in her analysis of three decades of environmental reporting, Sharon Friedman (2004) writes that “the environmental beat” is constantly in flux with attention coming and going dependent on public interest and major events. In an analysis of North American evening news programs on environmental topics between 1999 and 2009, Soroka et al. (2012) confirm that broader conversations about the environment are dependent on disasters and major weather events. In his summary of global media attention toward environmental topics, Hansen (2011) adds that attention peaks during the publication of major reports, meetings, and campaigns. Of course, this shouldn’t be surprising for those that subscribe to Anthony Downs’ theory of the issue-attention cycle (1972), which argues that a topic becomes problematized, quickly captures public attention and interest, before gradually fading from public view without being wholly resolved. While that work has spawned a vast body of literature interrogating the theory, a noteworthy finding from a (rare) Canadian longitudinal study of climate change coverage finds that it has actually become less event-driven in the 2000s (Young and Dugas 2011). Instead, they write news media coverage has become less nuanced and decontextualized, with more attention focusing on intersections with political and economic issues, like campaign promises, policy debates, and economic development (Young and Dugas 2011). Again, these findings should not be surprising. For decades, journalism scholars both in and outside of the environmental beat have written about the industry’s dependence on authority figures, including politicians, academics and business leaders (Gans 5  1979), and the way that “balance” and oversimplification serve as a crutch for reporters lacking necessary contextual and scientific knowledge (Dunwoody and Peters 1992). As early as 1976, Sachsman found that more than half of the 1000 articles written about environmental issues in the San Francisco area over 12 days originated in or drew directly from public relations efforts. In 2008, Lewis et al. made the argument that economic pressures to improve productivity in daily news made journalists even more reliant on pre-packaged sources of news, and Trench (2009) later confirmed these findings specifically in the environmental beat. Boykoff and Boykoff (2007) add that when journalistic norms of personalization, dramatization and novelty aren’t met – a common phenomenon for slow-developing, ongoing environmental stories – there is even less likelihood that journalists will provide extensive, in-depth coverage of environmental problems.   And more simplistic, decontextualized coverage of environmental problems with a narrower range of perspectives is concerning because of the primary role that news media plays as a public educator. Specifically, news media is widely considered to be a central actor in the production and public dissemination of environmental and scientific information (Boykoff and Boykoff 2007; Hansen 2011; Cox 2013). As Maxwell Boykoff writes (2009, p. 431), news media has a “Lorax-like” tendency to “speak for the trees.” In other words, news media often provides the primary outlet for people to learn about environmental issues (Boykoff 2009), which is an integral part in the “complex cultural process” through which people come to assign meaning to the environment (Burgess 1990). Hansen (2011, p. 7) builds from this social constructivist perspective, writing that “this applies not only to our beliefs and knowledge about those aspects of the environment which are regarded as problems or issues for public and political concerns, but extends much deeper into the ways in which we – as individuals, cultures and societies – view, perceive, value and relate to our environment.” Hansen (2011, p. 9) later reiterates that starting from this social constructivist perspective is essential to move beyond the “circular concerns with balance, bias and objectivity” in which the journalism studies literature on environmental reporting has been trapped.  Noticeably absent from the environmental journalism literature, especially in the Canadian context, is an explicit examination of how journalists tell and frame stories about natural resources and the resource extraction industry. For example, a Boolean search was completed of the “Communication & Mass Media Complete” database with variants of the search terms “natural 6  resources” and “journalism,” which yielded only a couple hundred results, of which less than a dozen were relevant and even fewer related to the Canadian context.   A high-level examination of environmental journalism studies in Canada finds overwhelmingly that news media in the country too often falls into the dichotomy of the environment vs. the economy, and critiques journalists for failing to recognize that sympathy for the environment does not depend on a booming economy (Gunster 2009). This is perhaps unsurprising given the news media’s tendency to employ adversarial frames – where distinct voices or perspectives are set up in conflict with one another – within the field of environmental and natural resource journalism (Karlberg 1997). And indeed, all four academic studies on resource extraction developments in Canada – three of which focus on the Alberta oil sands – that are included in this literature review mention the environment/economy dichotomy (Papineau and Deacon 2017; Olive 2016; Tran 2014; Takach 2013). In their study of how traditional print media coverage affects Canadians’ perceptions of the oil sands and the resource-based community of Fort McMurray, Papineau and Deacon (2017) find that the oil sands development are characterized as either an environmental or economic issue, at the expense of covering social issues. Tran (2014) completed a content analysis of national newspaper stories about the oil sands relying on 12 frequently overlapping categories of themes. While she argued that many stories built beyond the environment/economy dichotomy, those two concepts along with a political dimension were the most common themes found in her data (Tran 2014). In a review of visual media of the oil sands, Geo Takach (2013) starts from the premise of competing “romantic/extractive gazes,” and interestingly concludes that both draw on the anthropocentric valuation of land and environment. Moving away from the oil sands and toward the fracking industry in Canada, Andrea Olive (2016) sets out with five common characteristics – water pollution, economic benefits, moratoriums, uncertain risk, and energy independence – but finds that each of these characteristics are rolled into either environmental or economic stories, although rarely are the frames pitted against one another within one story. Importantly – and relatively invisible in the other studies – Olive finds that fracking coverage is rarely situated within a conversation about Indigenous politics, rights, or governance (2016). Olive also acknowledges that most environmental journalism content analyses in Canada use print newspapers as their source of data and calls for future research to examine the CBC’s online news (2016).  7  2.2 The competition to define the value of natural resources  In lieu of a robust body of literature on news coverage of natural resource projects, this review will briefly leave the field of journalism studies to explore the literature surrounding the competition to define the value of natural resources. This is relevant to the present thesis because it will help situate the case study – a proposed mineral development in Ontario’s far north – within the Canadian context, in which a complex web of economic, environmental, socio-cultural, health and political interests compete for communicative power. In fact, not only is it relevant, to ignore this context would be to miss an opportunity to examine the way that communicative power is (often unequally) distributed within society (Hansen 2011, 2015; Stoddart and Smith 2016).  Renowned resource geographer Erich Zimmerman (1933) once famously declared that “resources are not: they become,” in reference to his argument that the value of natural resources is socially constructed (as cited in Bridge 2009, p. 1220). Gavin Bridge (2009) expands on this idea when he explains that materials have value and utility assigned to them according to the role that technology and culture play at a particular time and place. Since society is composed of various groups with competing value systems and objectives, there is growing contestation over who should be able to assign value and meaning to the materials, and who can or cannot consent to the extraction of these materials (Bridge, 2009). In their book, Peluso and Watts (2001) add to this idea of contestation over resources when they reconceptualise the notion of “resource wars” as an attempt by the political and economic elite to obtain resources on the traditional lands of other peoples, set within specific historical and local contexts. As Seymour et al. (2010) summarize, people have historically assigned a wide range of values to “natural assets,” from economic to spiritual. And that doesn’t even begin to engage with the vast literature on environmental values that generally seeks to evaluate land and environmental features, whether it does so by attaching an ecological, a socio-cultural or an economic value (Satterfield and Kalof 2005; De Groot, Wilson, and Boumans 2002). Indeed, what is very apparent from the briefest of scans of these extensive bodies of literature is that societal conceptualizations and uses of natural resources or “assets” are incredibly complex. This alone raises a number of questions about journalistic coverage of natural resources and proposed developments, given the overwhelming consensus of environmental journalism scholars that such reporting is often defined by over-simplification. 8   Adding to the complexity of reporting on natural resource development in Canada is the colonial context. As stated clearly by the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Canada is a colonial state with its economy largely dependent on resource extraction and the dispossession of Indigenous people since its origins (as cited in Aspinall et al. 2019). In 2001, Natural Resources Canada estimated that roughly 1200 Indigenous communities are located within 200 kilometres of mining activities, and the Assembly of First Nations estimated that over 36 per cent of all First Nations in Canada are located within 50 kilometres of a mining development (as cited in Hipwell et al. 2002). This reality has spurred considerable academic research on the implications of mineral developments for nearby communities. Certainly, the prospect of natural resource development brings with it the promise of socio-economic development for many Indigenous communities (NAHO 2008; Molodecky 2016). But the literature is also quite advanced within the Canadian context about the impacts of mining on Indigenous communities especially, including increased mental and physical stress; increased use of addictive substances and high-risk behaviours; changes in traditional diets, leading to higher rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases; a general loss of traditional and cultural knowledge; and a decreasing reliance on traditional economies (NAHO 2008; Gibson and Klinck 2005). In the specific case of the BHP Ekati Diamond Mine in the Northwest Territories, Weitzner (2006) has linked the mine’s development to decreased overall health outcomes in the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation community, including youth becoming involved with drugs and alcohol at an earlier age; increased gambling; elder abuse; lower high school graduation rates; increased pressures on already-strained community support services; and an increase in youth suicides. These adverse effects are magnified in Indigenous female populations, as findings demonstrate an increase in gender-based violence in communities near resource extraction projects (Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada n.d.; Gibson & Klinck 2005; Nightingale et al. 2017). Social cohesion literature set within the context of resource extraction in Canada further suggests that the characteristics of extractive industries, namely the influx of a transient population, erode social cohesion within small, rural and remote communities by increasing anonymity and extreme individualism among residents (Ensign et al. 2014).   As this section makes rather clear, the issue of resource extraction and proposed resource developments is not only complex, but is a site of intense conflict between a range of actors seeking to define and shape (read construct) the public’s valuation of land, resources and the surrounding 9  environment. This acknowledgment of the many issues and competing frames that journalists must contend with when reporting on resource extraction in Canada is significant because it is well-accepted that people frequently turn to media sources to be informed about environmental and economic issues, and to situate public deliberations and decision-making (Gamson and Modigliani 1989; Seymour et al. 2010).  2.3 Journalism’s role in imagining the periphery  Beyond the general trends in environmental journalism and the complexities of resource extraction in Canada, this thesis must also contend with the role of journalists’ in constructing the public imagination of place, and specifically geographical peripheries. While not the core argument of his book, Hallin (1986) made the case that “where,” as one journalism’s basic questions and an essential component of any news story, had yet to be critically interrogated. According to Gutsche and Hess (2019), that appears to still be the case, as they argue that there has been little academic study of how spaces and places are constructed by journalists. By drawing on Pierre Bourdieu’s seminal work on the notion of symbolic power, Gutsche and Hess (2019) make the fascinating claim that journalists must be considered active place-makers with the power to imagine or construct what their audiences cannot see. And in a study on the “newsworthiness” of municipalities, Howe (2009) finds that increased attention from news media has a relationship with increased allocation of financial resources. Years later, Shumow and Gutsche (2016) argued that the news media played a key role in facilitating the incorporation of independent cities within the Miami-Dade County. Similarly, in their comparison of local media ecosystems in Leeds, U.K. and Philadelphia, U.S., Anderson, Coleman and Thumin (2015) find that places themselves are the products of communication, as they are shaped by the stories that people and, by extension, news media tell. In a broader critique, Edward Said (2012) contends that media writ large perpetuates myths about place; in other words it helps consumers imagine other geographies, that fixes constructions of identity, power and authority in a way that serves the interests of the imperial/colonial power. Remarkably, Usher (2019) argues that a key source of journalist’s legitimacy as a knowledge provider and a “cultural authority” is their power to know places better than their audience. Especially in the pre-digital age, audiences didn’t have other sources to confirm or challenge a journalist’s telling of otherwise inaccessible places.  This is also relevant to the economic geography literature when it comes to resource peripheries. Hayter et al. (2003) argue that resource peripheries are characterized by industrialism 10  (economic issues), environmentalism (environmental issues), aboriginalism (cultural issues) and imperialism (geopolitical issues), through each of which conflict is mediated. They add that peripheries are becoming increasingly contested places as various social actors compete to define, own, and use the resources contained within the land (Hayter et al. 2003). Within the Canadian context, the resource peripheries most often discussed are the Arctic as a site of mineral exploration and northern Alberta because of the oil sands (Ensign, Giles and Oncescu 2014). While most journalistic studies of the Albertan oil sands do not explicitly contend with its status as a resource periphery – indeed Tran’s (2014) graduate thesis did not address cultural or geopolitical contentions – the Canadian Arctic is widely acknowledged as such. In their study of how the Arctic is framed by news media within climate change stories, Stoddart and Smith (2016) find coverage focusing on the loss of polar bears as an emotional metric of rapid ecological change and on the economic opportunities presented by increasing accessibility of place. What is missing from this coverage according to Stoddart and Smith, is the negative cultural, economic and social impacts of climate change for local populations – which are predominately Indigenous – ultimately painting the inaccurate image of the Arctic as a vast, uninhabited land waiting for exploration (2016). A particularly interesting, recent contribution to this body of literature is an analysis of rural forested areas in New Brunswick as constructed by private news media, in which Aspinall et al. (2019) find that rural areas are overwhelmingly represented as inevitably disappearing and as sites where extractive industries can provide an economic boost.  A similarity that can be found across each of these locations – the Canadian Arctic, the oil sands in Alberta, rural forested areas in New Brunswick, and I will argue Ontario’s Far North as well – is that they can be characterized as sites of an extractive regime. As proposed by Paul Gellert (2010) in his study of Indonesia’s development throughout the late 1900s, an extractive regime has two basic characteristics: its economy is based on the extraction of natural resources, and that extraction can last for decades. If the broader public can be convinced that resource extraction will benefit the public good, the regime and proposed extraction developments will gain legitimacy (Gellert 2010). Again, this is significant for this thesis because it will examine how journalist’s construct and imbue meaning in the place where the Ring of Fire mining developments are proposed. 11  2.4 National broadcaster as facilitator of State formation  A notable finding from the abovementioned studies of journalistic coverage of resource extraction in resource peripheries is the role it plays in promoting a unified vision of the Canadian State that has national economic interests in these areas (Stoddart and Smith 2016; Preston 2013; Aspinall et al. 2019). Indeed, Stoddart and Smith (2016) find that national news framing of the Arctic fits a model that Olausson and Berglez (2014) claim promulgates the outlook on resources (an economic opportunity to benefit the public) and place (a frontier awaiting development) that is desired by the State itself. Again, these findings of mainstream media’s perpetuation of colonial narratives is not surprising, as comprehensive studies have found repeatedly that national and local newspapers have long held up narratives that undermine Indigenous claims to land, resources and ability for self-determination (Callison and Young 2020; Anderson and Robertson 2011).  In her study of the Gustafsen Lake standoff of 1995, media anthropologist Sandra Lambertus found that “the media act as both the recipient and the transmitter of pressures to conform to the dominant ideology” (as cited in Anderson and Robertson 2011, p. 10). In the most comprehensive examination of how Canadian newspapers have portrayed Aboriginal peoples, rights and land, Anderson and Robertson (2011, p. 8) write that “the imperial agent [i.e. the mainstream media] embodies the dominant narrative, naturalizes it, and assumes the right to define and then to impugn and punish the Other.” They add that the imperial agent acts to systematically eradicate the beliefs and values of the Other, which in colonial Canada is Indigenous people (Anderson and Robertson 2011). Mary Vipond (2000) writes that in many ways the Canadian government itself has looked to news media as a tool to create a sense of national unity and identity at the expense of Indigenous rights, culture and sovereignty (as cited in Anderson and Robertson 2011). Based on overwhelming evidence, Anderson and Robertson’s book Seeing Red (2011) demonstrates how colonial imagery that continues to this day imagines and constructs an understanding of Indigenous people as inferior, which supports the State’s attempt to force assimilation and – importantly for this thesis – expand State control of disputed lands.  While the literature is quite robust on the role of “mainstream media” and Canadian newspapers on the propagation of colonial narratives, it is not developed quite as explicitly within the content or intention of the State’s national broadcaster – the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) – which serves as the source of data for this thesis. Indeed, a Boolean search on the Communication and Mass Media Complete database of variants of the terms “colonialism” 12  and “CBC” yielded only a handful of results, of which two were considered potentially relevant. Notwithstanding, it is important to discuss the history and role of the CBC. The national broadcasting has its origins in the Aird Commission of 1929, which suggested that the country establish a publicly financed national broadcasting body, as it will “undoubtedly become a great force in fostering a national spirit and interpreting national citizenship” (as cited in Graham 2014, p. 2). The Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission was created in 1932, which served as both the country’s first public broadcaster and as a regulator of broadcasting (Graham 2014). It struggled mightily under the weight of expectations, and just a few years later was replaced by the CBC in 1936 (Graham 2014). In many ways, the early focus of the CBC was to develop a sense of cultural nationalism within Canada amidst fears that too much American programming would “contribute to a disintegration of the nation” (Graham 2014, p. 8). A number of media historians have also written extensively about the sense of nationalism and the goal of national unity as a driver of the rapid expansion of CBC’s broadcasting network, especially in the face of economic and political threats from the U.S. (as cited in Graham 2004). As Graham (2014) summarizes, the vast majority of literature surrounding the formation of the CBC applies a “nationalist gaze.” While there are provisions in Canadian legislation mandating the representation of minority ideas and groups within CBC’s coverage, Anne Maclennan (2011) provides a fascinating example about the actual role of CBC in fostering a sense of national unity at the expense of non-dominant cultures when she writes about local resistance to the extension of CBC radio networks in the Canadian Arctic. Maclennan argues that this physical expansion was seen as a source of “potential cultural threats posed by broadcasting originating largely from the South,” and that in many ways CBC’s “purpose as a national unifying force likely took precedence over the special needs of Canada’s diverse regions” (2011, p. 64). Maclennan situates these “fears of cultural imperialism and lack of cultural representation” within the critical literature on the role and impacts of national broadcasting on marginalized or minority populations in the United Kingdom and in Australia (2011).  Even within the rare content analyses of CBC programming, scholars have found it to reproduce colonial notions. A paper looking at two Canadian talk radio shows by Andreas Krebs (2008, p. 9) finds that the network radio show Sounds Like Canada reifies perceptions of Indigenous people as dependent, lacking agency and requiring the State or society to “save them,” and “holds the colonized up as an object for the white gaze.” In 2003, CBC’s television program 13  Newsworld revisited the trial of Métis leader Louis Riel with a three-part series. A critical analysis of this program by Maurice Charland (2007) found that the program was offered as a gesture of reconciliation toward the Métis, but instead was received by many spokespeople for the community as colonizing as it ignored the experiences of contemporary Métis communities, recast Louis Riel as a symbol in Canadian history, and failed to address the ongoing denial of Métis rights. One more particularly interesting study, while not looking at news content, offered a critical look at the fictional television drama Arctic Air, as produced and aired first on CBC and later on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (Hulan 2016). In the study, Renée Hulan (2016) finds that Dene people are portrayed as simply one cultural group among many, without any unique relationship to the land, it casts Indigenous people as willing participants in the extractive industry, and normalizes resource extraction in Canada’s northern regions. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2015) has also acknowledged the long history of Canadian news media as perpetuating negative stereotypes and under-reporting important issues for Indigenous communities. But the commissioners saw an important role for the national broadcaster to support reconciliation, calling for increased public funding, more Indigenous programming, equitable access for jobs, and dedicated news coverage of the reconciliation process (TRC 2015). Similarly, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples calls for appropriate reflection of Indigenous cultural diversity within State-owned media (United Nations 2007). In a paper for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Patricia Elliott (2016) explores the track record of the CBC as an actor supporting reconciliation. She finds that sites like CBC North and CBC Indigenous are important platforms to celebrate and centre Indigenous stories and perspectives, but Elliott also notes that financial constraints, an apparent neoliberal restructuring of the corporation, considerable under-representation of Indigenous employees and a limited vision for Indigenous media means the CBC has fallen far short of the TRC’s recommendations.  I do want to conclude this section with a brief note that much of this literature reviews national programming, whether it be national newspapers or national network programming by the CBC. While there has been considerable research on the differences between environmental journalism writ large at the local, regional and national levels (as summarized by Hansen 2011), the same is not true of the CBC itself. Elliott (2016) does reference the decision by CBC to close its local La Ronge bureau as an example of budget restrictions limiting its diverse coverage, 14  because the local bureau “had been dedicated to telling stories from Indigenous and northern perspectives” (Ladurantaye 2012, as cited in Elliott 2016). This will be an important consideration, given that most of the journalism articles written about the Ring of Fire will come from northern, local stations in Thunder Bay and Sudbury.                     15  3 Research Question and Methods  Moving on from the literature review, Chapter 3 will review the research question, hypotheses and methods completed for this thesis. The first section re-introduces the research question and the hypotheses derived from the literature. The content analysis is briefly reviewed, and then the case study, the Ring of Fire, is introduced. A brief discussion then ensues about the source of data (i.e. online news articles between 2010-2018) for this study, and the coding framework is then laid out in detail. The next section addresses concerns and steps taken to improve validity and reliability of the methodology. Finally, the author’s insider-outsider perspective as a current journalist working for CBC Thunder Bay and implications for the methodology is acknowledged. 3.1 Event-based, authority-heavy coverage: the research question and hypotheses  As mentioned during the introduction, this thesis will ask the broad research question: how does the news media shape and construct the understanding of natural resource extraction projects within the Canadian context? As introduced in the literature review, the issue of resource extraction in the Canadian context – and especially in resource peripheries – is quite complex, with a range of actors and perspectives competing to construct public knowledge about proposed natural resource developments often in relatively uninhabited places. Situated within this complex context, this thesis will test three hypotheses derived from the broader literature of environmental journalism. Those hypotheses are: i. Journalism articles will cover a narrow range of perspectives and issues, with economic and environmental issues being most prominent. ii. There will be small number of sources used in the reporting, most of whom will be political or economic elites. iii. Coverage will be largely event-driven, including political events, announcements and decisions, the release of reports, regulatory activities, etc. 3.2 The methodology: a content analysis  To attempt to answer the research question, this thesis will employ the qualitative research method of content analysis. According to Krippendorff (1989), content analysis is a research technique that facilitates replicable and valid inferences about a set of data. A systematic approach to content analysis ensures that all units of analysis receive equal treatment, arguably increases the 16  objectivity of the analysis, and can reveal trends and pattens within large bodies of text (Krippendorff 1989). As Neuendorf (2002) and White and Marsh (2006) expand, this methodology relies on the scientific method to enhance reliability, validity, replicability and hypothesis testing. It also measures variables as they naturally are without any manipulation of the dependent variable and focuses on messages conveyed (Neuendorf 2002). Content analysis is most commonly used within the field of communication and media studies (Krippendorff 1989, Neuendorf 2002). Often, these studies are motivated by concerns about inadequate application of journalistic studies, including worries that two or more sides of a public controversy are portrayed or represented unequally within coverage (Krippendorff 1989). This is certainly a motivation of the present thesis. 3.3 The Ring of Fire: a case study  To complete the content analysis, a case study was selected. The case study method is common and increasingly used in qualitative studies (Hartley 1994). It is particularly effective for studies that focus on sometimes complex contemporary events, activities or phenomena within the real-life context (Yin 1981), and often is used to investigate the theoretical issues posed by the literature, as well as to generate hypotheses and build theory (Hartley 1994). The case study selected for this thesis is the mineral-rich area located in northern Ontario called the Ring of Fire. A brief history of this case study will now be presented.  In her article about relational geographies of Indigenous self-determination, Indigenous scholar Michelle Daigle (2016) writes about the muskeg lands and the Omushkegowuk Cree law of awawanenitakik that sets out the responsibilities of the Omushkegowuk Cree toward their ancestral land, which is now commonly referred to as Treaty 9 territory in northern Ontario. Since time immemorial, Omushkegowuk Cree has had a reciprocal relationship with the land, and their use of the land included “ties to sacred sites, food harvesting and sharing grounds, trading routes, and long-standing relationships with other Indigenous nations, including pre-colonial treaties” (Daigle 2016, p. 264). The Omushkegowuk call the land nitaskiinan and have long viewed themselves as guardians of their homelands (Archives of Ontario 2020). In the late 1600s, contact took place in the area and French and English created several trading posts in the areas that have come to be known as Hudson Bay and James Bay (Archives of Ontario 2020). Facing declining animal resources, “unwelcome poachers and mining prospectors,” and hunger and sickness brought by Europeans in the late 1800s, treaty negotiations began. Spurred by the discovery of mineral resources in the area, a treaty delegation spent the summers of 1905 and 1906 travelling 17  to several Omushkegowuk, Anishinaabe and Algonquin communities in the area to solicit their signatures on what is now called the James Bay Treaty or Treaty 9 (Archives of Ontario 2020). Adhesions were made to the treaty in 1908 and 1929-1930, and now covers more than half of the land in Ontario, or some 582,000 square kilometres covering the James Bay and Hudson Bay watersheds (Long 2006).  In August 2007, the company Noront Resources Ltd. announced it had discovered a considerable deposit of nickel, copper, platinum and palladium within the James Bay lowlands – a deposit it would later call the Eagle’s Nest (Chong 2014). A rush of mineral surveying and exploration led to the discovery of a range of minerals in an area that came to be named the Ring of Fire (Chong 2014). The Ring of Fire area is approximately 5,000 square kilometres in size with most mineral discoveries coming within a 20-kilometre-long strip (Chong 2014). A report from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce suggested that the mineral deposits could contribute up to $27 billion to the province’s GDP within the first 32 years of development (Hjartarson et al. 2014), although certainly more boastful claims have been made. The deposit is also found within the world’s largest peatland and the world’s largest area of boreal forest untouched by large-scale human disturbance and is considered “a stronghold for biodiversity” (Chong 2014). While the deposit is situated within the larger Treaty 9 territory and within the traditional lands of many First Nations, it is located closest to the nine First Nations that make up the Matawa Tribal Council (Chong 2014). Most of the communities are accessible only by air or ice road. The area is located approximately 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, and upon its discovery had very limited transportation and energy infrastructure (Chong 2014).  This case study was intentionally selected because of its relatively new discovery and protracted debate about how to understand and value the land and mineral resources discovered in the area. At the time of writing, almost 14 years after the discovery of the Ring of Fire, no mineral resources have been extracted and a limited amount of infrastructure has been developed. But it was also selected because it sits at a complex confluence of competing perspectives and voices, with environmental, political, economic, and Indigenous voices competing to define and construct the value of the land and its natural resources. Moreover, the case study offers a compelling opportunity for a longitudinal study to examine how multiple parties compete for communicative power within a resource periphery, who is defined as legitimate authorities and claim-makers by news media, what drives media coverage, and how this changes over time. 18  3.4 The data source: online news stories by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation  This thesis will draw its data from online news articles published by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as it will seek to test hypotheses commonly found within studies of newspaper coverage of environmental and resource topics. To collect the data, a search was conducted of the CBC’s news site with the terms “Ring of Fire” and “Canada.” There were 392 results found on the website. Articles were excluded from this study for a number of reasons. Any articles that were duplicates were removed; any articles that did not specifically relate to the Ring of Fire mineral development in northwestern Ontario were taken out (i.e. some articles talked about Johnny Cash’s song or the region around the Pacific Ocean); and any links that did not include written articles were also removed (i.e. some search results were images or audio files only). There were also some articles that only referenced the Ring of Fire as a descriptor for an individual – for example, “Bob Rae, previously the lead negotiator for the Matawa First Nations in the Ring of Fire” – and those articles were excluded. However, there were articles, often written during political campaigns, that briefly mentioned the Ring of Fire, for example, within a list of other campaign promises or economic development projects; those articles were included and coded according to the context within which they were referenced. Articles published between 1 January 2019 and the date of writing were also scoped out because the author of this thesis started working as a part-time journalist for CBC Thunder Bay in 2019, including authoring some articles about the Ring of Fire (see section 3.7 for a more detailed discussion). After the inclusion/exclusion criteria were applied, 215 news articles published between February 2010 and December 2018 remained. Those webpages were then captured by the software NCapture, and uploaded into the coding software NVivo, which was used for content analysis. 3.5 A content analysis: the coding framework  With all of the news articles collected, this methodology section will now turn its attention to the coding framework. There are several ways to execute the coding, including human preset coding, computer preset coding and computer emergent coding (Neuendorf and Skalski 2009). Given the complexity of the resource periphery context in which this thesis situates its research, human preset coding will be used, which sees a coding scheme or a series of measures based on theory and similar research be applied to the dataset (Neuendorf and Skalski 2009). The coding scheme is made up of a codebook that has instructions for the coder and a coding form, into which 19  the coder’s assessments are entered (Neuendorf and Skalski 2009). Both the codebook and coding form are incorporated into the coding software NVivo. It is done a priori, or before the coding begins (White and Marsh 2006). To begin, some contextual information about each news article was collected. This included the author of the article, if specified; the CBC section in which each article was published, including Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Indigenous, Politics; and the year and quarter in which the article was published, like January-March 2010 or July-September 2017. This information was collected in case later analysis showed any relevant patterns in news coverage of the Ring of Fire, especially in relation to the particular biases or attentions of authors or newsrooms, and for longitudinal analysis. Next, thematic coding was completed in each article to determine what elements were emphasized in coverage of the Ring of Fire, the lands and people living around it. This was done to test the first hypothesis. The themes were determined a priori after a review of the literature and similar Canadian newspaper content analyses, and eight codes were created (discussed below). Each theme will be briefly discussed in terms of their relevance, but key terms and elements of each code are included in Table 3.1. • Economic – Natural resource extraction, and mining in particular, is seen as vital to the Canadian economy. A Natural Resources Canada fact sheet on the federal government’s website proclaims that “our minerals sector, which includes exploration, mining and related support activities, primary processing, and downstream product manufacturing, is a mainstay of the economy that supports jobs and economic activity in every region,” including spin-off economic activities, namely in the transportation industry (Natural Resources Canada 2021). The total value of Canadian mineral production in 2018 was $47 billion (Natural Resources Canada 2021), which demonstrates quite clearly the economic aspects to a mineral development. This code refers to any economic benefits or activities as a result of the Ring of Fire, including jobs, total economic worth of minerals, working camps, job training, development of required infrastructure like roads or rail lines or smelters. • Political – As Young and Dugas (2011) write, the coverage of environmental and natural resource issues in particular have been increasingly focused on political elements, like policies, campaign promises, decisions, political rhetoric and meetings, negotiations or summits 20  between politicians. A recent study by Chinn, Hart and Soroka (2020) of all U.S. climate change news articles published between 1985 and 2017 confirmed that media representations of climate change is frequently politicized, where political actors are featured more prominently at the expense of scientific and other actors.  • Ecological – The Ring of Fire mineral deposit is located within the world’s largest peatland and the world’s largest area of boreal forest untouched by large-scale human disturbance and is considered “a stronghold for biodiversity” (Chong 2014). Ecological processes in the area are vital, but also have the potential to be disturbed by mining processes. All ecological processes or mention of environmental change or disturbance were coded as such. • Indigeneity – This code is included because the Ring of Fire area is inhabited exclusively by Indigenous people, and development would occur on and interrupt traditional uses of land by First Nations in northern Ontario, and it also has implications for Aboriginal law, such as traditional hunting rights, treaty rights and the duty to consult. However, the bar for this code is quite high. Simple mention of First Nations politicians or individuals does not count; it must explicitly reference the unique status of Indigenous people in regard to their sovereignty, land or culture. • Legal – Natural resource development in Canada is governed by a complex web of competing jurisdictional challenges, laws, regulations, and permitting processes. Indeed, it is not uncommon to see natural resource developments challenged in court proceedings (Newman 2014). That is what the legal code is used for in this thesis. • Scientific – Science, research and innovation are central components of mining developments as industry experts and academics complete exploration, assess the potential impacts of new developments, and generally seek to advance knowledge through new ventures, initiatives and studies. • Social/Health – As laid out in the literature, there are significant impacts that mining developments can have on social cohesion, health issues like violence, stress and diet, as well as social issues like education and housing (NAHO 2008). But mining developments also promise to improve social and health outcomes in communities, especially in the remote First 21  Nations communities near the Ring of Fire which have well-documented health and social deficits directly linked to colonial policies and historic underfunding. • Risk – the literature on environmental risk communication is thoroughly developed (Cox 2013). This theme will encompass any mention of possible risks or impacts of mineral development in the Ring of Fire area. The unit of analysis for the purpose of this study – in line with other content analyses reviewed by this thesis – will be each paragraph, given that journalistic paragraphs are short, often only one sentence, provide information that is attributable, and contain a limited number of ideas (as cited in Tran 2014). Every paragraph was read, and passages of text were highlighted and tagged with the relevant code. Given the complexity of mineral development in the Canadian context, it was not uncommon for one passage to be assigned multiple codes as necessary.  Only the units of analysis explicitly relevant to the Ring of Fire were coded. For many articles, this meant every paragraph. However, some news articles included in the review did not focus exclusively on the Ring of Fire. An example of this is coverage of political campaigns frequently included a long list of campaign promises, including investment into road infrastructure leading to the Ring of Fire. The paragraph relevant to or explicitly mentioning the Ring of Fire was coded, other non-related paragraphs were not coded. The same code could be applied to one unit of analysis multiple times if different elements were emphasized. This most commonly occurred with the economic theme, as one paragraph may have listed a number of economic benefits of the Ring of Fire such as jobs, increased revenues for First Nations, and road infrastructure development. The same specific element could not be coded multiple times within the same news article however. For example, if “traditional gathering activities” were mentioned five times in one article, it would only be coded for Indigeneity once.      22  Table 3.1 Possible dimensions or elements included within the coverage Dimension Key terms Economic Any aspect that could relate to economic gain or loss as a result of the Ring of Fire’s development. This includes: jobs, revenues, GDP, budgets, financing, profits, growth, salaries, investment, trade, benefits, development, refineries, mineral claims, job/skills training infrastructure like roads or airports or electricity or smelters, etc. Political Refers to any matters of politics, including: elections, campaigns, candidates, agendas or platforms, policies including taxation and government investments, politicians, government, ministries, consultations that are not part of a formal review process, political agreements and negotiations to reach them, etc. Ecological Refers to the capacity of natural processes and elements to provide goods and services that directly or indirectly satisfy human needs (De Groot, Wilson and Boumans 2002), r simply mentions the existence of these particular features of the land, including: habitat, carbon storage, wetland systems, boreal forest, climate regulation or change, pollution, waste, conservation, wildlife, natural resources, plants or animals, water supply and regulation, soil retention, nutrients, environmentalists etc. It also includes any clearly stated desire to protect or acknowledgment of harm/pollution caused to the environment. Indigeneity This could include: uses of land, spiritual uses, traditional or cultural knowledge, treaties, Indigenous law, governance, customs, subsistence lifestyles, reserve systems, homeland, etc. Simple mention of First Nations as a stakeholder nor use of a First Nation as a descriptor for a person meets the bar to be coded in this category, there must be some mention about the unique position of First Nations. Legal Refers to any matters of the law, including: legislation, bills, laws, regulations, rights, treaty rights, crime, legal violations, punishments, law enforcement, lawsuits, blockades, consent and duty to consult provisions etc. Scientific In contrast to the ecological capacity of natural processes, this refers to a range of categories involving the pursuit of knowledge, including: research and development, environmental or impact assessments, innovation, equipment, techniques and methods of extraction, technology, reports or studies, measurements, etc. Social/Health Any element relating to social aspects of life, including basic education (but not job training), social cohesion, meetings of groups and social activities, housing, quality of life. This also includes matters related to overall well-being, including: physical or mental stress, addiction, obesity, diabetes, disease, abuse, suicide, gender-based violence, etc. Risk Relative to any element of uncertainty or potential unwanted outcomes or “impacts” of mineral development, including spills, environmental destruction, hazards, threats, danger, trade-offs, consequences, etc.   23  The next piece of data that was collected and coded is the kind of sources used within the news articles. This was done to test the second hypothesis. Four categories of actors were included that derive largely from Gans’ (1979) observation of common sources for journalists. As previously discussed in the literature review, Gans (1979) observes a reliance on authority figures, whether they are politicians, business elites or academics/experts. This thesis has added the fourth category of  civil society. The definition and key terms for each of the four categories of sources are included in Table 3.2. Sources that came up most frequently – like Ontario’s Minister of Northern Development and Mines Michael Gravelle or representatives of mining companies Cliffs Natural Resources and Noront Resources – were also tracked. Each individual source was counted just once per news article regardless of the number of times they were quoted, although the same source category could be coded multiple times in one news article if different sources were used. Explicit reference to a source’s Indigenous identity was also tracked. Table 3.2 Types of sources included within the coverage Type of source Definition Political This includes anyone in government, holding political power, representing a government or ministry, politicians, judges, political parties, cabinet ministers, campaign officials, representatives for negotiations, party nominees or candidates, etc. Economic This represents specifically anyone representing a company that may be involved as a prospector, vendor, employee, owner, support service, consultant, etc. Academic/expert A wide-ranging category, this includes people or reports that are presented as holding specific knowledge because of their research, advanced study or an issue, expertise knowledge. This could include political scientists, ecologists, economists and lawyers. Civil society The broadest definition, this includes members of the public, lobby groups, thinktanks, non-governmental organizations, etc.   To address the third hypothesis about event-driven coverage, each news article was assigned one of eight codes to determine the purpose of the coverage. These categories were borrowed directly from Lor Tran’s (2014) thesis examining national newspaper coverage of the bituminous sands in Alberta because of the similarities in focus and structure between the studies. Those eight categories are defined with key elements of coverage in Table 3.3. They include: reports, policy, summits, responses, projects/initiatives, campaigns, lawsuits, and other. 24  Table 3.3 Exploring the purpose for the story to be written Purpose of coverage Definition Reports Scientific, persuasive, economic papers published by an organization with a certain message, finding or conclusion. This could include reports or studies completed by government, First Nations, or other organizations like thinktanks or chambers of commerce. Policy The introduction, discussion or debate of a particular political approach to address an issue identified, outside of campaign periods, as well as political negotiations. Summits Any conferences, public input sessions, negotiations or other events that lead to a congregation to discuss the activities of the Ring of Fire. Responses Coverage exclusively of a group or a person responding to a claim, a report, policy, summit, litigation etc. Often as a follow-up story. A story that is written because of a report, policy, summit, legal process, etc. that includes a response does not count. The story must exclusively be a response to another story. Projects/initiatives Specific initiatives or activities that see the implementation of something, like the location of a smelter, job training activities, creation of new development corporations, etc. Campaigns In reference to political campaigns and all activities therein like political rallies, debates, etc. Legal processes Any coverage of a matter of litigation of one party towards another. Others A catch-all category for any purpose of coverage that is missed by others. In this study, it includes coverage based on reporter trips into the area, or investigations and features in First Nations near the Ring of Fire (i.e. original journalism), as well as financial transactions.  3.6 Methodological rigour: focusing on validity and reliability  Two primary concerns when it comes to the methodological rigour of academic studies are validity and reliability. First, validity is an essential component of the qualitative coding methodology (Neuendorf 2002). It is concerned with the accuracy and truthfulness of the findings (Brink 1993). There are two main types of validity: internal, or the extent to which research findings are a true reflection of reality; and external, or the extent to which these reflections of reality are applicable across groups (Brink 1993). Because the purpose of this research is to generate theory, but based on a very unique case study, external validity is not a primary concern. However, internal validity is very significant, because the results of the coding process must reflect 25  as accurately as possible the themes most commonly used by journalists. As Neuendorf (2002) writes, validity is increased when an indicator more accurately reflects the desired concept. In the case of the thesis, how accurately the key terms reflect the concept or theme sought in the study. White and Marsh (2006) outline several suggestions to improve validity, including drawing on existing coding sheets used by similar studies, as well as laying out clear and consistent definitions drawn from the literature. This methodology does exactly that.   The second concern is reliability, or the consistency, stability and repeatability of the researcher’s accounts (Brink 1993). In other words, reliability is the ability of a research method to yield the same results over repeated testing periods (Brink 1993). Inter-coder reliability is not a concern because the author is serving as the sole coder. But, to improve intra-coder reliability – that is the consistency of the author’s coding – a test run was completed by practice coding a small, random selection of articles. The list of key terms and definitions was regularly reviewed and updated to fit the specific context, and in the case of emerging key terms that could be confusing. Those updates were reflected in the methodology section, so other researchers could clearly read and replicate the methods and findings. Moreover, all coded sections were reviewed by the coder to ensure consistency of coding and address any mistakes or oversights made during the coding process. These steps were taken to improve the methodological rigour of this study. 3.7 Navigating the insider-outsider perspective  Lastly, it is important to acknowledge that this methodology and research was guided by the insider-outsider perspective of the author as a former and current journalist working for CBC in Thunder Bay. Specifically, I began working as a journalist part-time for CBC Thunder Bay in 2019 with a focus on health, environmental and Indigenous stories, which means that I have written stories about the Ring of Fire. Thus, throughout this research, I was both an insider, as a journalist working for CBC in Thunder Bay and covering the Ring of Fire and later developments, and an outsider, as a news-consuming member of the public for the entirety of the time period studied within this thesis. This reality was of great benefit for this thesis as I already had considerable historical and contextual knowledge, but it also shaped my methodological choices. For example, as explained earlier in this chapter, I chose to use a human preset coding method in which the coding logics were derived from existing literature and established a priori as opposed to an open, grounded coding method where the codes would be developed through a close reading of the text. This was done in an attempt to improve the systematization of the research, given that the open 26  coding method is more subject to influence by the author’s biases (Glaser 1965). Additionally, any articles that were written during the author’s employment at CBC Thunder Bay were excluded because of the possible role the author would have had in writing, editing or shaping the focus of the news articles.                     27  4 Research Findings  This chapter will now walk through the major findings of the research undertaken for the purposes of this study. First, basic information about the articles included in the content analysis itself are presented. The next two sections are devoted to findings that relate specifically to the first hypothesis about the range of perspectives, themes and ideas that journalists include in their coverage of the Ring of Fire. The fourth section of this chapter reviews findings related to the second hypothesis about who journalists lend credibility and authority to by including them as sources and credible claim-makers in their reporting, before the chapter concludes with the presentation of findings about the drivers of coverage of the Ring of Fire mineral discovery in Treaty 9 lands. 4.1 Coverage of the Ring of Fire: The articles  This first section will provide more information about the articles themselves that were included in this study. As previously mentioned, 215 articles were included in the review after inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied. Several pieces of data were collected on each article, in order to get a better understanding of the data sample and what has been published by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation about the mineral deposits collectively called the Ring of Fire in the muskeg lands of Treaty 9 in northern Ontario. Table 4.1 When the news stories were published Year # Articles Published 2010 3 2011 7 2012 26 2013 28 2014 28 2015 30 2016 22 2017 18 2018 53   The first piece of data collected was quite simply the year each article was published, as it is useful to track developments in coverage over a period of time. No news articles were found prior to 2010 – and a Google search consisting of ““Ring of Fire” AND “Canada” site:cbc.ca” was 28  conducted to confirm this finding – and articles published after December 31, 2018 were excluded in the study. A total of 215 articles were found, with more than half of the articles published between 2012 and 2015 (n=112), and the year with the greatest number of articles published being 2018 (n=53). A complete list of the year of publication is included in Table 4.1.  The second piece of identifying information collected for each article was the location each story was published. While many newspapers are separated by a lettered section and a page number (i.e. A7, B4, etc.), digital stories published by CBC are assigned a specific geographical or unit location. While stories were published across a range of geographical locations and specialized units, five sections became immediately apparent. The specific numbers are included in Table 4.2, but those five sections in order of significance are: Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Politics, Other and Indigenous. The catch-all category of “Other” included a few rare articles published by the Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal bureaus. Table 4.2 Where the stories were published Location # Articles Published Thunder Bay 125 Sudbury 68 Politics 12 Indigenous 4 Other 6   The third piece of information attached to each article was the author. A remarkable majority were bylined quite simply “CBC News.” Although there were a few journalists that had bylines on more than 10 articles, it was rare and most articles fell into the “unassigned” or the “other” categories, as is summarized in Table 4.3. Table 4.3 Who wrote the articles? Author # Articles Published Unassigned 131 Other 34 Jody Porter 29 Canadian Press 11 Jeff Waters 10  29   These three pieces of identifying information were captured for each article for use in analysis, in case additional insights into the news coverage of the Ring of Fire could be garnered from the time, location or author of the story. Indeed, as will be explored Chapter 5, this was the case. 4.2 Politics and economics dominated coverage of the Ring of Fire  As laid out in the methodology, each individual article was read and passages were coded along the lines of eight separate thematic aspects: political, economic, Indigeneity, scientific, social/health, ecological, legal and risk (as defined in Table 1). Two levels of data were created as a result of the coding software: both the number of articles (of the 215 analyzed) that a particular code was assigned to at least once, and the total number of passages that was assigned each code. For example, the economic code was assigned to 162 of the 215 total articles, but the economic code was assigned to 420 separate passages contained within those 162 articles, because there were often multiple economic elements that were found within one news article. A few basic calculations were then completed with this information. The category “% of all articles” was created by dividing the number of articles assigned a particular code by the total number of articles (i.e. for the economic code, 162÷215=0.75). This calculation is relevant because it shows how many of the articles contained a particular theme within its writing, so it becomes quite telling that there was an economic aspect emphasized in a full three-quarters of all news stories published by CBC on the Ring of Fire. The category “% of all codes” was calculated by dividing the number of codes assigned within a particular theme by the total number of thematic codes assigned, which was 1260 within all of the articles (i.e. for the economic code, 420÷1260=0.33). This calculation was made to demonstrate how frequently articles referred to a particular theme or aspect of the Ring of Fire. A third calculation made was average number of codes per article. This was done for each theme by dividing the number of thematic codes assigned by the number of articles to which a particular code was assigned (i.e. for the economic code, 420÷162=2.59). This was done to show how many different aspects of each theme were incorporated into each article on average; so with the example of the economic aspect, most articles that assigned an economic value to the Ring of Fire would do so by emphasizing a number of economic aspects, like total economic worth of the minerals, the number of jobs it could create, and the infrastructure to be built into the area. A query was also run for each of the themes to determine the most common key terms included in each 30  coded passage. The top few key terms as well as the numbers and calculations described above are included in Table 4.4. Table 4.4 The relative presence of each theme among the news articles Theme # Articles % Total # Codes % Total Codes/ Articles Frequently used terms Economic 162 75% 420 33% 2.59 Job/work, development, road, resources, smelter, economic Political 164 76% 355 28% 2.16 Chief, federal, ministers, talks, resources, negotiations Scientific 70 32% 119 9% 1.70 Environmental, assessments, study, road Social/Health 57 26% 104 8% 1.82 Community, education, health, housing Indigeneity 56 26% 95 8% 1.70 Traditional, land, rights, territory, treaty Legal 45 21% 82 7% 1.82 Consult, court, permit, resources, land Ecological 34 16% 49 4% 1.44 Water, environment, rivers, protection, fish Risk 29 13% 37 3% 1.28 Impacts, environmental, potential, community, effects   These results are quite interesting because they demonstrate just how often journalists rely on political and economic understandings of the Ring of Fire when they write a story about the mineral development. Three-quarters of the more than 200 stories written over a period of eight years include reference to the economic aspect of the mineral resources located in northern Ontario, most often in reference to the prospect of jobs for First Nations, as well as people living in northern Ontario and in Canada more broadly. Two types of infrastructure were also discussed quite frequently – the ferrochrome smelter and roads – because of the economic opportunities they bring to the region and their necessity. Indeed, when the Ring of Fire was discussed, a full one-third of the time it was in relation to economic aspects (Figure 4.1 includes a pie chart showing the relative presence of each theme among all codes assigned). While it is outside the scope of this thesis to discuss reader interpretations of the news articles, coverage of the Ring of Fire certainly paints the picture of a new discovery of mineral resources in a region ripe for economic development and opportunity.  Similarly, three-quarters of the news stories analyzed for this thesis included some reference to the political aspect of the Ring of Fire, whether they were in regard to political negotiations and discussions between different levels of government or leaders, or budget or 31  campaign promises, policies or plans. Like the results for the economic theme, 28 per cent of all passages coded for this thesis emphasized a political aspect. This certainly emphasizes the political aspect of mineral development in Canada, as the Ring of Fire becomes constructed as a place that requires political negotiation and policy to be developed. Figure 4.1 Relative number of codes assigned to one theme as percentage of total   The actual need or action of seeking more knowledge in the area (the scientific code) was included in roughly one-third of all the articles coded and accounted for roughly one-tenth of all codes assigned in the study. Meanwhile, a quarter of all articles included some mention of social/health issues or aspects of the Ring of Fire area, nearby communities and proposed developments, and roughly the same number of articles emphasized some notion of Indigeneity. This is remarkable both given the literature’s clear linkage of mining to social/health problems but also opportunities for improvement, and the fact that the Ring of Fire is located in an area that has been exclusively occupied by First Nations people since time immemorial.  About one-fifth of all articles made some mention of a legal aspect of the mineral development, mostly which related to disputed jurisdiction over the land and its subsoil resources, as well as the intensely legal and regulatory nature of natural resource development in Canada. Ecological aspects of the Ring of Fire were only mentioned in 16 per cent of all articles written, despite the fact that it is located in a practically untouched, rich ecosystem. Indeed, most mentions of the ecological aspects of the Ring of Fire were concerns about the impacts of potential mining on the water systems that run through the area. This was of course tied to the issue of risk, which Themes as percentage of total codesEconomicPoliticalScientificSocial/HealthIndigeneityLegalEcologicalRisk32  was least present among all the themes coded, present in only 13 per cent of the 215 articles and accounting for only three per cent of all the codes assigned. These numbers suggest that journalistic coverage of the Ring of Fire mineral deposits is not too focused or aware of possible effects on the local ecosystem functions nor on the risks of mineral extraction, despite the abundant academic literature on the issue. 4.3 First it was a story of economic potential, then of political (in)action  Since the year of publication was also recorded for each news article, the coding software NVivo permitted for the tracking of how the presence of each theme developed over time, for example, when political aspects about the Ring of Fire were assigned most frequently. The number of articles that received a particular thematic code broken down by year are mapped out in Figure 4.2. This is relevant because spikes in certain aspects of the Ring of Fire could then possibly be explained by or linked to certain phenomena, and the drivers of certain kinds of coverage could then be explored.  Table 4.5 Development of themes in Ring of Fire coverage over time Theme 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Total Economic 8 31 78 78 62 46 32 35 50 420 Political 3 12 37 67 61 43 21 31 80 355 Scientific 1 11 20 14 6 29 15 13 10 119 Social/Health 1 3 20 17 15 12 3 5 28 104 Indigeneity 1 7 32 7 11 8 9 8 11 95 Legal 1 9 19 12 13 10 2 3 13 82 Ecological 0 4 10 3 8 10 3 1 9 49 Risk 0 1 9 6 4 5 1 0 3 37 Total Codes 15 78 225 204 180 163 86 96 204 1261 # Articles 3 7 26 28 28 30 22 18 53 215 Total Codes/Article 5 11 8.6 7.2 6.4 5.4 3.9 5.3 3.8 5.9   Table 4.5 includes a summary of the total number of codes assigned to a particular year, broken down by year. While this raw form of tabular data can be hard to read and make assessments of the data, there is one very interesting observation from this finding – the relative decrease in the average number of codes assigned per article over time. For the entire dataset of 215 articles, an average of 5.9 codes were assigned to each article. In the early years of covering the Ring of Fire mineral deposit in Treaty 9 lands – besides 2010 where only 3 articles were written – a larger than 33  average number of codes were assigned to each article. But after 2015, the number of codes assigned to each article decreased below the overall average, in some years quite significantly. Given that the articles were coded at random and not in chronological order, it is unlikely that this fluctuation is due to coder error. Instead, what it could reflect is a tendency of journalists to focus on a wider range of perspectives in the earlier years of the Ring of Fire mineral deposit discovery, but as the years went on stories became less complex and relied on a narrower range of understandings of the land, the people, the First Nations and the minerals discovered in the area that has come to be known as the Ring of Fire. To show the actual development of different themes over time, the raw data found in Table 4.5 was converted into a line graph, as seen in Figure 4.2. Figure 4.2 The development of themes over time, as present in the Ring of Fire coverage   Figure 4.2 provides a number of very interesting insights. Of course, as was already mentioned, economic and political aspects of the Ring of Fire were referenced the most frequently throughout the entire eight years of coverage. While that is not new, what is rather interesting is the way that the gap between economic and political aspects of the mineral deposit closes over the years. Between 2010 and 2013, there is a clear tendency for journalists to emphasize economic aspects well above any other aspects. This finding will be explored in more detail in the next chapter. But starting in 2014, political aspects of the Ring of Fire are drawn on by journalists 01020304050607080902010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018# of Codes AssignedDevelopment of themes over timeEconomic Political Scientific Social/HealthIndigeneity Legal Ecological Risk34  almost as frequently as the economic aspects, and in 2018, the political focus on the Ring of Fire takes off, finishing the year well above the reliance on economic aspects. While these will be expanded on later, this is demonstrative of the relationship between the news values or themes within coverage of the Ring of Fire, which is discussed in this section, and the actual drivers of coverage, being the actions that prompt a journalist to chase a story in the first place. For example, there was a provincial election in 2014, a federal election in 2015, and then both a Progressive Conservative leadership race and a hotly contested provincial election in 2018, which correspondingly led to a spike in the politicization of and an emphasis of the political nature of the Ring of Fire mineral development within the coverage.  There are two other notable spikes in attention that are worth addressing. The first is a spike in coverage or acknowledgment of Indigeneity in 2012, when it was coded 32 times across 16 articles. That is almost three times the number of references in twice the number of articles as compared to any other year of coverage. While this will also be touched on in Section 4.5 looking at the drivers of coverage, it appears from closer inspection of the articles published that there was a spike in concern specifically from First Nations around the Ring of Fire about the speed of development and exploration happening on their traditional lands, also resulting in a number of legal challenges and resulting attempts by resource extraction companies to reach out to the First Nations by providing gifts and creating other initiatives. A common message by First Nation leaders made throughout 2012 and 2013 was a reminder to companies and governments that it was First Nation land in which these minerals were found, and they needed to be consulted and included in any decisions and resulting benefits.  The second notable spike in issue attention is a jump in coverage of scientific issues in 2015. Again, this is largely tied to the notion of event-based coverage that will be explored further in a later section, as 2015 saw a number of environmental studies released looking directly at the impacts of mineral exploration on the boreal forest, habitats, caribou and fish populations, as well as a new study being created to look at the road infrastructure required to create access to the mineral deposits in the Ring of Fire area.  What is quite interesting to observe is what is not present – namely there is no clear trend upwards or downwards of coverage of any particular theme. As First Nations make their presence and their requests more known in an otherwise forgotten resource periphery of the province, or as 35  greater knowledge was learned about the ecology of the relatively undisturbed vast ecosystems, as just two examples, there is no corresponding gradual increase in value assignment or coding frequency of those aspects of the Ring of Fire.  Overall, the last two sections have provided sufficient evidence to support part of the first hypothesis laid out in the methodology, that a narrow range of perspectives, themes or understandings of the Ring of Fire mineral deposits would be included within CBC’s news coverage, with a greater tendency toward economic and environmental issues. As discussed, there was surprisingly limited mention of ecological functions, environmental protections and even environmental assessments of the area that is now widely called the Ring of Fire. There was a considerable focus on the economic potential and opportunities that come with the Ring of Fire, and interestingly a large focus on political aspects of the mineral deposit. Perhaps this should not be surprising however, given the findings of Young and Dugas (2011) that coverage of environmental topics was becoming increasingly politicized. 4.4 Journalists overwhelmingly source politicians, men and non-Indigenous people  This next section will turn to present the findings related to the second hypothesis about the sources relied on by journalists, or in other words the claim-makers that were lent news credibility and authority. As mentioned in the methodology, there were four categories of sources that were counted: academic/expert, political, economic, and civil society. The definitions for each category are included in Table 3.2. The individuals belonging to the academic/expert category were rarely used more than once and never more than five times, and there were no dominant sub-categories to note. For the political category, sources were broken down by their level of government – federal, provincial, municipal and First Nations. The economic category was broken into company, with the three resource companies with the greatest stakes and largest number of claims in the area the most prevalent. And the civil society category was broken down by type of organization, whether it was an economic-focused group (like industry associations and chambers of commerce), an environmental group, or individual members of the public. Additional demographic characteristics were captured for each source including explicit mention of Indigenous identity, male/female identification where specified (sometimes it was just “an official” or a press release that was quoted), and frequently used sources. Two additional calculations were made. The first calculation was percentage of sources, which was done by dividing the number of sources within a sub-category by the total number of sources used in a 36  particular category (i.e. with academic/expert, 17 sources were male of a total of 36 expert sources: 17÷36=0.47). This information helps better understand the specific nature of each category. The second calculation is percentage of the total sources used, which was 478, including repeated sources used across several articles. This was calculated by taking the number of sources within a category or sub-category and dividing it by 478 (i.e. with academic/expert, 36 total sources were used: 36÷478=0.07). It is important to note that sub-categories will not always equal 100 per cent of the broader category because, with the exception of the political levels of government, not all sources within a category fit nicely into to sub-category, nor was the gender of the source always identified. This information is broken down in Table 4.6. Table 4.6 The sources relied upon in Ring of Fire news coverage Source Type Sub-category # Sources % Sources         (# sources/ category total) % Total           (# sources/478) Academic/Expert  36 100% 8% Gender Male 17 47% 4%  Female 10 28% 2% Indigenous Indigenous 3 8% 0.6% Political  275 100% 57% Government level Federal 35 13% 7%  Provincial 141 51% 29%  Municipal 30 11% 6%  First Nations 69 25% 14% Gender Male 196 71% 41%  Female 44 16% 9% Indigenous Indigenous 74 27% 15% Economic  94 100% 20% Company Noront 39 41% 8%  Cliffs 26 28% 5%  KWG  14 14% 3% Gender Male 54 57% 11%  Female 10 11% 2% Indigenous Indigenous 3 3% 0.6% Civil Society  73 100% 15% Sector Economic 29 40% 6%  Environmental 10 14% 2%  Public 20 27% 4% 37  Source Type Sub-category # Sources % Sources         (# sources/ category total) % Total           (# sources/478) Gender Male 42 58% 9%  Female 18 25% 4% Indigenous Indigenous 13 18% 3%   While the data provided by Table 4.6 is useful to really break down the sources used in each of the categories of sources as a summary chart, it makes it is not the easiest to read and get a better sense of what type of sources are used, and how that breaks down along gender lines (where specified) and what percentage of sources are explicitly identified as Indigenous. Table 4.7 provides this data. Table 4.7 Total number of sources by gender and Indigenous identity Total # Sources % Total Sources (#/478) Male 309 65% Female 82 17% Indigenous 93 19%   Before this thesis describes the findings in this particular section, a new figure will be introduced that will help to visually demonstrate how the sources used by journalists are broken down by category. Figure 4.3 took the total number of sources used in each of the four main categories and calculated the relative amount that a journalist turned to or relied on a certain type of source for a story.        38  Figure 4.3 The relative frequency each type of source was used   Now turning to a short discussion of the major findings in this section, it is clear that the characteristics of the most commonly used source, perhaps unsurprisingly, is a non-Indigenous, male politician. Nearly two-thirds of all the sources relied on by journalists are men. It is worth noting that there are repetitions included within this dataset, meaning that a particular individual was counted once per article they were quoted, but if they were quoted in 20 articles, they were counted 20 times in the total. It is also important to note that a full 18 per cent of the sources used by journalists did not have a gender assigned, meaning the journalists drew information from press releases, unnamed officials or reports without reference to the authors more frequently than they included women in the 215 articles written over a period of nine years. More than half of the women that were quoted in the articles were female politicians (n=44), of which a majority were Kathleen Wynne (n=24), the premier of Ontario from 2013-2018. Overall, one white, female politician accounted for more than one-quarter of all female-identified sources in the news coverage of the Ring of Fire. There may be a number of reasons for this reality, including under-representation of women in politics and in the natural resource sector.  In fact, there are more people and sources explicitly identified as Indigenous than there are female sources in these news articles. Almost one-fifth of the total sources used in the news articles were identifiable as Indigenous, with the vast majority of those coming from First Nations political leaders or governments. One-quarter of the political sources were Indigenous (n=74), and there was a wide variety of different First Nations and leaders that were quoted in articles, including a 57%20%15%8%Frequency of each source typePoliticalEconomicCivil SocietyAcademic/Expert39  number of individual First Nations, tribal councils (including Matawa, which represents nine of the First Nations closest to the Ring of Fire mineral deposits) and regional governments, like the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. Interestingly, there were two First Nations that accounted for almost half of all Indigenous political sources and slightly more than one-third of all Indigenous sources: Neskantaga First Nation (n=23) and Eabametoong (n=11). This is rather interesting because these two First Nations have been at the forefront of most attempts to block or slow down the development of the Ring of Fire, often providing the voice throughout the coverage that was critical of the political actions and economic moves to access and mine the Treaty 9 lands.  And the most telling finding of all is certainly the fact that more than half of all sources quoted in CBC’s news coverage of the Ring of Fire were political in nature (n=275), with another one-fifth being an economic source and the remainder of the sources falling in the civil society and academic/expert categories. More than half of the political sources belonged to the provincial government, which is understandable given that natural resources fall under the jurisdiction of the province. Of this category, the most commonly cited people were the province’s long-time Minister of Mines Michael Gravelle (n=29) and Ontario’s long-time premier Kathleen Wynne (n=24). Interestingly, the third-most commonly cited provincial political source was Doug Ford (n=13), who only emerged on the provincial political scene in 2018 – the last year included in the dataset used for this thesis – as a leadership contender for the Progressive Conservative party and then eventually as the Premier of the province. The fact that two of the most commonly cited provincial political sources are party leaders is perhaps quite telling of the way that the Ring of Fire was not only politicized, but also seen as a priority for the entire province.  What is also rather interesting about the finding that political sources made up more than half of the total sources used, is that political themes accounted for less than a third of all thematic codes assigned to the articles. The method of capturing and coding articles unfortunately did not permit for the themes coded to be assigned to a source, which would have allowed for a deeper analysis of the relationship between the sources used and the themes emphasized within the news coverage. However, this particular finding would seem to suggest that political sources played a key role in propagating an economic understanding of the Ring of Fire and the lands in which the minerals sit. 40   In concluding this section of findings, it is also worth noting that the majority of the economic sources quoted by CBC news stories were the three companies with the largest stakes and most claims in the Ring of Fire area, including KWG Resources, Cliffs Resources, which ended up selling most of its claims to the now-largest company in the area, Noront Resources. And within the civil society category, 40 per cent of all sources belong to an association or organization that is economy-focused, while another one-quarter are essentially random members of the public that spoke to media. Only 14 per cent of the sources belonged to environmentally focused organizations. The dearth of sources that are specifically from environmental organizations, along with the earlier finding that just four per cent of all thematic codes were related to environmental protections and ecological functions, is significant because it challenges the observation made earlier in the environmental journalism literature that a simplistic environment vs. economy binary frame is often imposed within news coverage. Indeed, it appears that rarely are environmentalists or other types of sources given the opportunity to make claims within the news media about the area now commonly referred to as the Ring of Fire.  However, these findings do support the second hypothesis laid out in the methodology, being that news articles will largely source their information from political and economic actors, giving them the largest amount of public space and time to make their claims about the land and the mineral resources found within, what they mean, how they should be addressed, and who should benefit. 4.5 A wide range of drivers of news coverage  The final section of this chapter focuses on the drivers of CBC’s news coverage when it comes to the Ring of Fire. Again, it is important to distinguish these drivers – which are the specific actions, ideas, events that result in the writing of a news story – from the news values or themes discussed in section 4.3 – which are the consciously or unconsciously selected themes or aspects of the Ring of Fire that journalists draw on in the production of the stories. As mentioned and defined in the methodology, eight different types or drivers of news coverage were identified and adapted to suit the specific case study: response, campaign, policy, project/initiative, summit, report, lawsuit and other. After the 215 articles were coded to one of the eight categories, a simple count was completed to get both the total number of each category of coverage, but it was also mapped over time, and the amount each driver of coverage as a percentage of the total 215 articles is also calculated. The raw data for this can be found in Table 4.8. 41  Table 4.8 Drivers of Ring of Fire news coverage Driver of Coverage 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Total % Response 1 1 7 8 3 5 2 4 7 38 18% Campaign 0 1 1 0 7 5 0 3 20 37 17% Policy 1 1 1 10 4 3 6 6 8 40 19% Project/Initiative 0 3 5 1 4 1 6 3 11 34 16% Summit 0 1 3 4 2 4 1 0 4 19 9% Report 0 0 2 1 3 8 2 1 0 17 8% Lawsuit 0 0 4 2 2 0 1 0 2 11 5% Other 1 0 3 2 3 4 4 1 1 19 9%   What is immediately noticeable about this raw data in tabular form is the relatively even dispersion of different types of coverage, which is in stark contrast to the other two areas of measurement, where political and economic themes and sources were significantly more common throughout the coverage of the Ring of Fire than any other theme or type of source. Here there are two different levels of coverage frequency: one between 16 and 19 per cent of stories (consisting of stories about policy, response, campaign and project/initiative, in descending order); and one between five and nine per cent of stories (consisting of summit, other, report and lawsuit stories, also in descending order). To get a better sense visually of how these different drivers of coverage fluctuated over time, Figure 4.4 was created and included in this section.             42  Figure 4.4 How the drivers of Ring of Fire coverage have developed over time   What is particularly interesting about this graph is that it shows again how there is no dominant driver of Ring of Fire coverage, but rather certain issues, events and activities move fluidly in and out of public attention. This section will now proceed to explore the reason behind certain peaks in a certain type of coverage.  To start, in 2012 and 2013, there is a spike in coverage of the broad category of “response,” or people, governments and organizations responding to an action or policy put in motion by another. As mentioned in connection to the spike in Indigeneity references in articles published in 2012, First Nations around the Ring of Fire area were able to capture the news media’s attention with a number of stories written specifically about their concerns that the lands on which they live were being impacted by mineral exploration, and that movement toward extracting the Ring of Fire mineral deposits were happening too quickly and without their involvement. That accounted for eight of the 15 stories published in this category between the two years. Interestingly, this corresponds to a relative spike in stories about lawsuits in 2012, as First Nations started legal processes, as well as a slight increase in project/initiative stories as the natural resource companies started programs in their attempts to address the concerns of the First Nations. It also led to a spike 05101520252010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018Number of articlesDrivers of coverage over timeResponseCampaignPolicyProject/initiativeSummitReportLawsuitOther43  of policy-related stories in 2013, as attention on the Ring of Fire began to increase and a number of governments and politicians began preparing for negotiations, introducing policies and hiring big-name negotiators. For example, in 2013, the nine Matawa First Nations hired former Ontario Premier Bob Rae as their lead negotiator, while the province made the decision to appoint former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci as Rae’s counterpart.  Unsurprisingly, 2014 saw other coverage slow down as Ontario entered into a provincial election, which saw provincial and regional leaders politicize the Ring of Fire, arguing about why more progress had not been made in its development, with each party suggesting they were best suited to open up the north for business. While a number of campaign-related articles were also published during the federal election in 2015, it was not nearly as important of a national issue. But 2015 saw other developments, with a number of environmental organizations coming out with studies about the impacts that Ring of Fire-related exploration was having on the environment, the watershed, wildlife and their habitats. The Liberal provincial government, having been re-elected with a majority, also turned their attention to moving forward on developing necessary infrastructure into the Ring of Fire area, and began funding studies into the options for building roads and railways.  Just one year later, much of the coverage turned toward policies focused on actually getting those roads built, as public debates took place between and among politicians of all stripes discussing what was and was not in the provincial and federal budgets to support infrastructure development. It is worthwhile to note that in the early 2010s, the provincial Liberals made a highly publicized policy statement to invest $1 billion in necessary infrastructure development in northern Ontario to connect otherwise remote First Nations to the provincial highway network and to facilitate access to the Ring of Fire mineral deposits. A number of stories in 2016, and in other years, focused specifically on that political policy and whether or not it still stood, and how the government would unlock that money. Those policy debates continued through 2017, a year that saw the least amount of Ring of Fire-related coverage since 2011.  That changed completely in 2018, a year in which more than one-quarter of all articles analyzed were published. A number of major events took place including, most significantly, the Ontario Progressive Conservative party holding a leadership campaign in which leadership candidates placed considerable attention on ridings in northern Ontario. That attention spilled over 44  into the general provincial campaign, also in 2018, as the media closely scrutinized the Liberal, Progressive Conservative and NDP’s plans for northern Ontario, and how it would deal with the issue of opening up access to the Ring of Fire area. There was also a noticeable increase in project/initiative stories written in 2018, which can largely be tied to the fierce competition between a number of northern Ontario cities to become the host of a ferrochrome smelter that would process much of the minerals theoretically mined in the Ring of Fire area. The hype around this decision by Noront Resources of where to invest their money also led to an increase in coverage of policies passed and discussed by municipal governments to increase attractiveness for investment, as well as a number of public meetings or summits hosted by the municipalities to garner public input. Of course, after the decision was made by Noront to place the ferrochrome smelter in Sault Ste. Marie, journalists turned their attention to response stories, reaching out to any stakeholders to get their reactions on the company’s decision.  What is particularly interesting about this section is the way that Ring of Fire-related coverage can be traced throughout the years and spikes in news media attention can be directly tied to particular events, or decisions. Of course, this section did not go into detail about the handful of job training, education-related, or other social/health issues-oriented projects and initiatives that took place consistently throughout the nine years of news coverage, nor did it focus too much attention on the few lawsuits that received attention. The “other” category was an important addition to this process of data collection because it found another category of coverage not previously discussed by journalism studies on Canadian resource extraction – financial reporting. Eleven of the 19 stories that were included in the “other” category were related to financial issues, including the gradual withdrawal of Cliffs Resources from the Ring of Fire as it sold off its assets. That means that only about eight of the 215 stories were considered by this thesis’ author to be truly original journalism driven by reporter trips into the Ring of Fire area and nearby First Nations. A possible reason for this is that the Ring of Fire is not only far and difficult to travel to from major journalism hubs in northern Ontario (i.e. Thunder Bay and Sudbury), but it is also rather expensive to get to in a time of shrinking journalism budgets. However, this also provides support for the third hypothesis, that coverage will be largely driven by events (including political activities, reports, meetings and lawsuits), as opposed to being driven by original journalism. This is of course consistent with findings from the literature on environmental journalism.  45  5 Discussion of Findings  The previous chapter walked through the findings of the research conducted for this thesis and introduced a number of findings relevant to the research question and the three hypotheses derived from the literature. The findings partly support the first hypothesis, while the empirical evidence supports the second and third hypotheses to a greater extent.  The first hypothesis – that journalism articles will cover a narrow range of perspectives with economic and environmental aspects being the most prominent – was supported in part by the findings. As explored in the previous chapter, nearly two-thirds (61%) of all the thematic codes applied to the news articles were either political or economic, while other elements like ecological aspects of the land, legal processes and unresolved jurisdictional issues, Indigenous perspectives and uses of the land, as well as the risk of resource extraction in a relatively untouched ecosystem were rarely discussed. Thus, the hypothesis is supported in part because journalists did spend a considerable portion of their time constructing the Ring of Fire to be understood in terms of its economic value (i.e. jobs, revenue, employment training). But if the hypothesis were to be supported to a greater extent, we’d expect ecological themes or understandings of the Ring of Fire to have appeared more frequently in the data, and political understandings of the mineral deposit would not have been nearly as common. Nonetheless, the second and third hypotheses – that a smaller number of sources, largely political or economic elites, will be used in the reporting; and that coverage will be largely event driven – were more clearly supported by research findings. Indeed, more than three-quarters (77%) of the sources used by journalists in the 215 news articles analyzed for this thesis were political or economic leaders, of which two-thirds were male and 80 per cent were non-Indigenous. In other words, the public claim-makers provided the greatest amount of space and credibility to construct the public imagination of the Ring of Fire and the land and people around it are non-Indigenous men that hold some form of political power. Moreover, CBC’s news coverage of the Ring of Fire was largely event-driven, with roughly two-thirds of the coverage driven by political campaigns, policy announcements and debates, responses to said policies and actions, and projects or initiatives. Very few stories were necessarily original, investigative or based on time spent in the Ring of Fire area. So, this analysis of CBC digital coverage of the Ring of Fire has found that news coverage is dominated by a focus on economic and political aspects, uses primarily male, non-Indigenous 46  political and economic elites as sources, and is heavily reliant on events.  But why is this the case? What does this mean? What should journalists and the general public take away from this?  This chapter will try to answer some of these questions. The first two sections will look at possible explanations as to why there was such a heavy focus on the economic aspects of the Ring of Fire when it was first discovered, and then in the ensuing years as action stalled. The next section will look at the general trend towards the politicization of environmental topics, especially natural resources. The fourth and final section will look at the relative exclusion of Indigenous people, governments and aspects from the coverage, despite the fact that the Ring of Fire is situated in lands exclusively occupied and used by First Nations. 5.1 The Ring of Fire: A place of imagined and untold riches  Northern Ontario, from a colonial perspective, has always been recognized as a resource frontier for the Euro-Canadian State (Conteh 2017). It was first the site of British-French competition for animal furs, as the parastatal Hudson’s Bay and Northwest companies built relationships and trading posts in the homelands of First Nations; but as the resource potential of the region became better understood, settlers were driven north seeking economic opportunities in the forestry, pulp and paper and mining industries (Republic of Mining 2010). The Republic of Mining (2010) reports that the largest single population increase in the region’s history came in the 1950s, as a mining boom pushed the population from 536,000 in 1951 to 722,000 in 1961. According to a 2019 report by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce that “offers a framework for thinking about the present and future of Ontario’s regional economies,” not much has changed (Dessanti 2019). Report author Claudia Dessanti (2019) writes that 79 per cent of Ontario’s forestry, fishing, mining, oil and gas jobs are located in the region, and her suggestion to improve confidence and rejuvenate the region’s economy is to invest in transportation infrastructure to increase access to the vast expanse of boreal forest and mineral deposits, like the Ring of Fire. In many ways, northern Ontario and the Far North can be considered an extractive regime, as described by Gellert (2010), in that its economy is based on the extraction of natural resources and this extraction can last for decades. With this notion so firmly rooted in the public imagination and construction of place, it really is no surprise that the Ring of Fire area in northern Ontario is constructed so heavily as a place with economic potential and opportunity.  47   But why is there such a strong emphasis on economic aspects so early in the news coverage? In her profoundly interesting thesis on discourses about mining events and the Ring of Fire, Brianne Vescio (2018) writes that within days of the 2007 discovery of minerals in the area, the tiny airport in Webequie First Nation resembled Toronto’s Pearson International Airport with plane after plane carrying geologists full of hype, financed by deep-pocketed investors. Why? Vescio argues the discovery story of the minerals was the initial hook for investment: “the untapped potential of remote, Northern Ontario, the persevering geologists, the rugged landscape, and of course, the ‘buried treasure’” (2019, p. 4). Vescio relies heavily on Anna Tsing’s (2005) theory of “the economy of appearances” to explain this phenomenon. In her book chapter, Tsing (2005) tells the story of the small Canadian gold prospecting company Bre-X, which claimed in 1994 to find a large gold deposit in the forests of Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Over time, the stories of the find grew bigger and bigger, with investors around the world emptying their wallets and the public collectively imagining this mineral deposit to be “the biggest gold strike in the world,” only for the world to find out years later there was no gold and no merit to the claims of discovery (Tsing 2005, p. 83). Tsing writes this performance or this “economy of appearances” is “the self-conscious making of a spectacle [which] is a necessary aid to gathering investment funds” (2005, p. 84). In many ways, Tsing says this kind of public imagination “of the combined frontier of investment and mining” is intrinsic to Canada’s identity because it represents the “opportunity, potential prosperity, and the sense of initiative” that Canada understands itself to be built on (2005, p. 84).  So, for the Ring of Fire to be hailed as Canada’s “next oilsands,” as an opportunity to restore confidence to a settler population and economy in a resource frontier devastated by lack of infrastructure, investment and a dwindling population base, perhaps is no surprise. For towns that have seen their economies dismantled as one pulp and paper mill closes after the next, the promise of jobs and investment is understandably exciting, perhaps even more so for the journalists living within the towns. It is perhaps equally as unsurprising then, when those mineral discoveries become understood and further constructed by journalists as an unprecedented opportunity to lift remote First Nations out of the poverty created by a legacy of forced assimilation, removals of children from communities, dispossession of land, repeated attacks on language and culture, and historic underinvestment. In many ways, as the world entered a period of great economic recession 48  in 2008, the Ring of Fire entered the public imagination as the miracle solution to an entire region’s diverse range of problems.  What is concerning is that of the 215 articles, very few challenged those promises and that paradigm. In 2015, Ontario’s auditor general slammed the provincial Ministry of Northern Development and Mines for “not encouraging mining developments quickly enough,” failing to develop infrastructure into the Ring of Fire area, and collecting little in royalties (CBC News 2015). A number of political and economic sources provide comment on the report, written and published by a State actor, but there is no challenge to the fundamental premise that mineral resources must be extracted apparently at great cost. There is only one story within the dataset that directly challenges the lofty promises published by journalists, a 2014 story by Jody Porter called “Three big ‘whoppers’ told about the Ring of Fire.” In it, Porter (2014) criticizes claims about the rarity of chromium – the main mineral found in the Ring of Fire area – as she writes about the global oversupply of the mineral and dropping global prices; she writes that First Nations and the province are still a long way away from being on the same page in terms of the significance of the mining deposit; and she includes comment that directly contradicts the claim likening the Ring of Fire to the Alberta oil sands.  While this thesis, based on a singular case study, would not be so bold to make the following claim, it certainly suggests that the role journalists play in perpetuating the “economy of appearances” is a topic worthy of further academic pursuit.  5.2 Economic prosperity as source of story recall  As the hype about the Ring of Fire gradually died and its further exploration and development was stalled by the realities of unresolved land jurisdiction issues, limited transportation infrastructure and crashing commodity prices, it is interesting to observe that economic aspects of the Ring of Fire continued to be incorporated in news coverage of the region. Indeed, while the frequency of economic themes included in news coverage dipped after 2013, it remained the most common aspect discussed about the Ring of Fire right until 2018. But with the economy of appearances surrounding the mineral discovery fractured, why did it continue to play such a key role in news coverage? This could be explained by a number of factors, including the historical understanding of Ontario’s Far North as a site of resource extraction, the country’s economic dependence on resource extraction and resulting dispossession of Indigenous people (as 49  cited in Aspinall et al. 2019), as well as the re-affirmation of these facts by political and economic elites afforded great credibility by journalists as public claim-makers.  But throughout the years of coverage, it would not be uncommon for journalists themselves to write in a line or two adding “context” to the story about the Ring of Fire. And within those contextual lines, previous claims of economic prosperity, comparisons to other resource extraction projects, total economic value of the minerals and the creation of jobs were commonly cited. While it is well outside the scope of this thesis to explore audience understanding of the Ring of Fire, the vast literature on “news recall” may provide some insights. Alan Booth defines recall as “the recollecting of an earlier event and its surrounding circumstances” (1970, p. 604). He adds that the purpose of news is not only to provide information, but it is also to monitor events over which the media user has little control but can relate the events to similar happenings or potential personal impacts (1970). As Vincent Price and Edward Czilli (1996) summarize, levels of audience news recognition and recall are largely a function of how much coverage is dedicated to any particular story, but also on levels of prior knowledge among the audience, on audience characteristics and on news story characteristics. When it comes to news story characteristics in particular, Price and Czilli write that stories “perceived to have an immediate impact on audiences” receive special value (1996). When writing stories, journalists are expected to not only tell their readers what the story is, but also why it matters. Those are decisions that journalists have to make every time they write a story, and those decisions are often influenced by who they believe is their audience (Robinson 2019). Not only do journalists write for their imagined audience, but these imagined audiences and the journalist’s perception of their desires influence the journalist’s decision-making in terms of the information they include in the presentation of the story (Robinson 2019). In a TOW Centre report on the journalist’s imagined audience, Robinson (2019) writes that journalists were largely unable to determine who their readers were, so they stuck with the people they knew. Robinson (2019) adds that journalists remain unable to imagine a diverse audience despite emerging tools that provide unprecedented information. This is a significant finding for a Canadian media ecosystem that remains predominately white and male (Callison and Young 2020), and for newsrooms located in the resource peripheries of the Canadian colonial State. If journalists covering the Ring of Fire continually make decisions to provide context and package stories in ways that almost exclusively (roughly two-thirds of passages coded in this study) assign economic and political value to a mineral discovery, this thesis 50  perhaps offers an opportunity to ask newsrooms who they write for, why, and take a closer look at the assumptions they’re making. 5.3 Growing politicization of environmental stories  While the economic aspects of the Ring of Fire were certainly emphasized throughout the nine years of analyzed coverage, this discussion now turns to an exploration of the politicization of the Ring of Fire mineral deposit, and within environmental journalism more broadly. As the economic hype about the Ring of Fire stopped growing and became mired in an ability to move forward on the necessary infrastructure and other development-related requirements, news coverage increasingly turned towards the political aspects of resource extraction – the policies required to move development forward, the political compromises and negotiations required between different levels of government, and the tokenization of the Ring of Fire as a measure of political effectiveness. Moreover, more than half of the sources quoted in the 215 news stories were political authorities. But why is this the case?  As briefly discussed in the literature review, this could have been expected. In their longitudinal study of Canadian climate change coverage, Young and Dugas (2011) write about a decline in stories about ecological events and scientific studies, with a simultaneous increase in news stories about policy debate and proposed solutions. Similarly, a content analysis of all U.S. newspaper articles on climate change shows that media representations have become increasingly politicized with political actors increasingly featured at the expense of space for scientific actors to make and defend their claims (Chinn, Hart and Soroka 2020). In many ways, the reliance on experts is to be expected because of the well-established authority-order bias of journalists to consult authority figures that reassure the public of the social order (Gans 1979). But what remains unexplained is why journalists have turned to political authorities increasingly throughout the years. Boykoff and Boykoff (2007) remind us that first-order journalistic norms of personalization, dramatization and novelty play a key role in the selection and content of news stories, meaning that strong characters and a sense of conflict play a key role in determining when a story is newsworthy. But the argument that politicians are more interesting and dramatic than scientists isn’t very satisfactory, even if it may provide a clue. In her chapter on environmentalism in Norway, Ingerid Straume (2015) argues that environmental problems, discourses and politics are systematically conceptualized as concerning individual persons and demanding actions at the individual level, as opposed to the larger structural issues that they are. In their attempts to hold 51  someone accountable for a lack solutions to complex problems, this could lead journalists to increasingly turn to individual politicians, as opposed to exploring systems that have created and perpetuate the complex problems. Many have also made the argument that the changing media ecosystem – i.e. cuts to funding, reduction in specialized beat reporting and less time and resources to do original, investigative journalism – has affected the quality of environmental journalism, and resulted a shift toward its politicization (as summarized in Schafer and Painter 2020; Hansen 2011). Nisbet and Fahy (2015) lay out a similar argument, writing that science debates writ large have become increasingly politicized because of cuts to science reporting staff and a lack of specialized knowledge required to cover and foster debate about complex issues.  There is no doubt that access to the Ring of Fire mineral deposit is a complex problem that requires deep understanding of a vast expanse of land; unresolved conflicts about the use and claims over the land; global commodity production, markets and values; road and railway construction; legacy issues in remote First Nations related to colonialism; environmental risk; mining regulations and processes; alongside other complex issues. At a time that news bureaus are experiencing major cuts to their budgets – CBC Thunder Bay and Sudbury experienced several rounds of layoffs throughout the 2000s – perhaps it is out of a lack of resources, time and specialized knowledge that reporters turn increasingly to politicians and political frames. While this thesis doesn’t purport to provide an answer, it certainly supports the findings from other studies about the politicization of environmental and natural resource issues, and it echoes the call for more scholarly inquiry into the issue and guidance on the depoliticization of news coverage. 5.4 Building in more Indigenous voices  This last section explores the findings about the relative absence/presence of Indigenous voices, lives, cultures and sovereignty in CBC’s coverage of the Ring of Fire, a mineral deposit located in land exclusively occupied by First Nations since time immemorial. As noted in the findings, roughly one-quarter of the 215 articles analyzed included some element of Indigeneity, whether it was jurisdictional issues, rights, treaty issues, language or land-based activities. Additionally, all of the references to some aspect of Indigeneity in Treaty 9 territory around the Ring of Fire collectively made up roughly eight per cent of all thematic codes assigned within the set of news articles. Further, roughly one-fifth of all the sources quoted in the analyzed articles were explicitly identified as Indigenous. But is that enough? It is certainly not the place of this author nor this thesis to answer that question, but it is one that is worthy of consideration for 52  journalists and news organizations covering the Ring of Fire and other resource extraction projects. And perhaps an even more important question to ask, how are Indigenous people, governments and issues constructed and understood in the coverage of resource extraction?  That was not a central focus of this study, so the results don’t provide enough empirical evidence to attempt an answer. But the academic literature certainly points to the significance of this question. As cited in the literature review, Mark Anderson and Carmen Robertson’s (2011) comprehensive longitudinal study on representation of Indigenous people in Canadian newspapers demonstrates overwhelmingly that an image of inferiority is perpetuated by journalists, which contributes to further marginalization of Indigenous people in Canadian society. Other reports that explore coverage of Indigenous people specifically in relation to natural resource extraction find similar concerns. McNeish (2012) writes about coverage of resource extraction and supporting infrastructure in Latin America and the ensuing Indigenous resistance. In his study, McNeish finds that Indigenous resistance is oversimplified, is conflated with support for the environmental movement, and resisters are portrayed as “incapable of anything but confronting and rejecting change” (2012, p. 39). Within the Canadian context more specifically, Wilkes, Corrigall-Brown and Ricard (2010) found that the extensive coverage of Indigenous peoples’ collective action events have implied an “us vs. them” dichotomy that threatens “peaceful race relations” and are costly to the State in that they prevent naturalized economic activities and uses of land. This not only contributes to the Othering of Indigenous people, but it reinforces a stereotype that they are an economic burden to the State and its “paying citizens” (Wilkes, Corrigall-Brown and Ricard 2010, p. 55). One only needs to look at the recent news coverage of the blockade of Canada’s rail lines in February 2020 to see how quickly Indigenous-non-Indigenous or us-versus-them dichotomies are constructed when Indigenous and solidarity collective action targets economic activities. Again, that level of analysis was not completed for this thesis, but recalling the number of stories that saw First Nations leaders acting to delay or slow the development of the Ring of Fire and associated infrastructure certainly begs the question of how and why Indigenous voices were sought and included in news coverage.  As a concluding thought for this section, it is important to note that the only source of data for this thesis is Canada’s national broadcaster – the CBC – which a number of studies cited in the literature review have argued plays a key role in State formation and the social construction of national citizenship and imaginaries. A growing body of literature is pointing to alternative sources 53  of media that are telling stories that reflect a greater diversity of perspectives, publics, and understandings of gender, race, place and settler colonialism (see Callison and Young 2020). In a study set within the specific context of resource extraction in a Canadian resource periphery, Scobie and Rodgers (2013) find that social media and digital media have created new spaces outside mainstream media where a multitude of voices and perspectives can engage in meaning-making about proposed resource extraction projects in Nunavut. That same work is arguably happening within the Facebook group “Ring of Fire: Everyone Matters, Including Us!” started recently by residents of Attawapiskat First Nation – a community largely excluded from negotiations and discussions related to the Ring of Fire, despite being situated downstream a major river from the proposed mineral developments. The group is a place for nearly 300 people to share resources, information and perspectives about the Ring of Fire and ongoing developments. While this is not to excuse the CBC’s coverage and relative inclusion or exclusion of Indigenous people, culture and sovereignty – especially given the major role the Truth and Reconciliation Commission accords the CBC to support reconciliation – it does prompt further research into wider coverage of the Ring of Fire by mainstream, alternative and non-traditional sources of news.            54  6 Conclusion  This academic thesis started off with one broad, central research question: how does the news media shape and construct the understanding of natural resource extraction projects within the Canadian context? Three hypotheses derived from the literature on environmental journalism were proposed: news articles will cover a narrow range of perspectives and issues, with economic and environmental issues being most prominent; there will be small number of sources used in the reporting, most of which will be political or economic elites; and coverage will be largely event-driven, including political events, announcements and decisions, the release of reports, regulatory activities, and others. To evaluate these hypotheses and attempt to answer the research question, a content analysis was conducted of CBC news coverage of the Ring of Fire mineral deposits discovered deep under the muskeg swamps of the James Bay Lowlands in Treaty 9 territory in northern Ontario between 2010 and 2018.  A coding framework was developed, based in part on similar studies found and adapted to meet the specific context of the Ring of Fire development. Rich in data, the content analysis provided empirical support for two of the three hypotheses in full, and partly supported the other hypothesis. While based on just one case study in a specific context, these findings provide insight and support research findings in related academic studies looking at how journalists construct public understanding of natural resource discoveries and proposed resource extraction projects. The unique context of the Ring of Fire also engaged in broader conversations about the role of journalism in the competition of a range of actors seeking to define the value of natural resources, and the way journalists construct the public imaginary of place, especially in resource peripheries.  There are a number of limitations to this study, some of which have already been mentioned. The scope of the thesis was limited because of feasibility concerns to articles published by just one source, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and to just one case study, the Ring of Fire. While a case study is a valuable methodology for theory generation, a greater number of news articles published by a wider range of news organizations – like The Chronicle Journal, a regional newspaper with the largest circulation in northern Ontario, and Wawatay News, a First Nations-owned and operated news organization – would have added depth and a greater amount of data from which conclusions could be drawn. A more fulsome and comparative angle could have been added to this thesis if emerging and alternative sources of news were included in the review. 55  Moreover, it is rather interesting that the search terms “Ring of Fire” AND “Canada” on the CBC News site did not generate stories prior to 2010 (and only three stories at that), given its initial discovery in 2007. This finding was also checked on a number of other sites, including an advanced Google search, but yielded no additional results. Neither did search terms of other relevant terms, like “Eagle’s Nest,” which was the name of the first deposit discovered in the area that would later be known as the Ring of Fire. This begs the question of why it did not receive digital news coverage by the CBC prior to 2010, or why those articles cannot be found. A constant limitation of coding methodologies is that despite attempts to systematize the coding, there is still room for subjective and individual attention and preference to influence the process. And finally, the approach to coding was simply to count the frequency of certain themes, sources and drivers of coverage, but the coding software NVivo allows positivity/negativity coding to occur, which could have added insight into the coverage.  For example, when talking about social or health aspects of mining, additional information could have been attached to distinguish between stories or sources that highlighted the negative effects that mining could have as opposed to the potential for improvement to legacy issues in First Nations in the area.  More than limitations, these methodological choices could also be seen as avenues for future research. Indeed, this area of journalism studies that explores natural resource coverage in resource peripheries is relatively understudied in the North American context and provides many opportunities for future research. As mentioned in the discussion of the research findings, many questions remain about why coverage of complex problems have become increasingly politicized. How can journalists move beyond this event- and personality-driven coverage towards knowledge-based systems journalism that is depoliticized and more productive? How does a more complete evaluation of the media ecosystem in northern Ontario construct the understanding of the Ring of Fire? How are Indigenous people, cultures and uses of land actually represented by CBC and other news media in the Ring of Fire area? And perhaps one of the bigger questions, in what ways does mainstream news coverage of resource peripheries and extractive projects contribute to the economy of appearances, and facilitate the work of a colonial State founded on an extractive economy and the dispossession of Indigenous peoples?   These are big questions that interrogate the role of journalism and provoke conversation about why journalists make the decisions they do and what the implications are of those decisions. And if this thesis contributes to those conversations, it will have served its purpose and more. 56  Bibliography Anderson, C.W., Coleman, S. and Thumim, N. 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