Communicating land loss for coastal Louisiana with visuals: Issue Urgency and Issue Importance

Zeynep Altinay, Nekesha Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


<p> <p id="x-x-abspara0010"> This study explores the influence of visual imagery on individuals' perception of complex scientific information on coastal land loss. It investigates how mass media channels use visual frames to convey an environmental issue's outcomes and how these frames might influence perceptions of issue urgency and issue importance. The primary message frames explored in this study were gain/loss frames and temporal context. A content analysis was conducted to collect online images of coastal land loss in Louisiana and the potential message frames used to communicate this issue's outcomes to the public were identified for each image and coded. Focus group discussions were then used to evaluate the effectiveness of these message frames. Results suggest that visual cues can shape public understanding of coastal change and its risk to coastal communities. Particularly, images that refer to future environmental conditions (temporal context) are more likely to convey the urgency and importance of an issue. Images that emphasize environmental and economic losses may be more engaging to an audience, however these types of images may also reduce motivation to mitigate losses. Willingness to support environmental solutions appears to be a result of public's ability to visualize short-term goals and successes. Best practices for coastal managers to produce and deliver environmental imagery are discussed. </p></p>
Original languageAmerican English
JournalOcean & Coastal Management
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • Environmental Sciences

Cite this