Offshore oil drilling—an energy extraction process that removes petroleum from beneath the seabed—is a growing controversial issue worldwide and within the United States (Jones, 2018). This controversy manifests itself through the differences in public perceptions of offshore drilling among coastal states. Local media sources play an important role in identifying and reinforcing these perceptions. Existing research on state news media portrayal of oil and gas production suggests that factors such as political affiliation, geographical distance, and economic factors shape the perceptions that are portrayed through media. However, this body of literature has not specifically addressed the portrayal of offshore oil drilling in U.S. coastal states, despite offshore drilling’s influential role in the fossil fuel industry. This study employs an in-depth content analysis of newspaper articles from six different regional newspapers in California and Louisiana to explore how media portrayal of offshore oil drilling differs between the two states. A total of 67 articles were analyzed and examined for statements that related to the study’s categorical themes. The results showed that California newspapers were more likely to negatively represent offshore drilling through the discussion of its harm to the environment while Louisiana newspapers were more likely to negatively represent offshore drilling through the discussion of its economic benefits. Given the influence newspapers often have on public awareness and opinions, the inherent disparities between California and Louisiana newspapers contribute to polarizing opinions among Americans on offshore oil drilling.
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