Media & Fracking

Excited to see this article come out on-line:

fracking olive

There is surprisingly little written about hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Canada. In The Canadian Environmental in Political Context the topic is given only a few pages of description and discussion in Chapter 8. There is scant mention after that! In part, because there is so little information out there in the peer-reviewed world.

As is now common knowledge, fracking involves drilling a pipe size hole thousands of feet down into the earth and blasting water, chemicals, and sand into it to “shake” out the oil or gas trapped in the shale rocks. The oil and gas is then collected and pumped to the surface for industrial use.

This article “What is the fracking story in Canada?” examines newspaper coverage of fracking in 5 Canada newspapers: Globe and Mail, National Post, Regina Leaderpost, Winnipeg Free Press, and the Halifax Chronicle Herald. I had two outstanding political science undergraduate students from the University of Toronto Mississauga work on this project. They found all articles in these papers that mention hydraulic fracturing between 2010 and 2014. It was 758 articles total. The students read each article and coded it for different “frames” like “water pollution” or “energy independence.” There were 21 frames we coded for in all articles.

In the end, I can conclude that looking at the five papers over those five years, the fracking story in Canada is really about water pollution, economic benefits, uncertain risks, moratoriums, and energy independence. The story is not about Aboriginal politics, wildlife, water usage, or climate change. Indeed, in Canada it matters a great deal what newspaper you read in terms of the information you are provided.

Canadians need more information about the social, environmental, and economic risks (benefits and costs) related to hydraulic fracturing! You cannot believe you read in the  newspaper.


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