Competing visions for the Toronto waterfront: A content analysis of the Island Airport expansion debate

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Title: Competing visions for the Toronto waterfront: A content analysis of the Island Airport expansion debate
Authors: McGreevy, Madeleine
Date: 2016-04-03
Abstract: In April, 2013, Porter Airlines proposed expanding Toronto’s downtown Island Airport and introducing jets to allow for long-haul flights. Growth plans have been met with a mixture of support and opposition from Toronto residents. Given the important relationship the media has with public understanding and evaluation of issues, this research project used quantitative and qualitative content analysis to determine how the debate has been portrayed in the Toronto news media. More specifically, this study examined coverage of the issue in the Toronto Star in April, 2013, when Porter Airlines announced its expansion plans, and in the March, 2014 lead-up to a key city council vote to delay making a decision. The study used agenda setting and framing theories to examine what issues attributes have been featured most frequently, and how expansion has been framed. Issue attributes include arguments for or against expansion, background information, and the position of stakeholders. Issue attributes that are prominent in the media relate to public understanding, and are thus a meaningful area of inquiry (Kim et al., 2002). Revealing the framing judgments at play can underscore what the media has determined to be at issue, and what is to be done. The study found dominant arguments for expansion included that it would cause only limited change to the status quo (28% in April), while key arguments against expansion included its negative impact on recreational waterfront use (14% in March). Key opponents to expansion included waterfront residents (44% in April), and supporters included former mayor Rob Ford (42% in March). The qualitative analysis found, in some cases, opponents were framed as alarmist. While the study was underway, the federal transport minister announced that expansion will not be permitted to move forward. The findings are examined in light of this decision.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/34896
CollectionCommunication - Mémoires // Communication - Research Papers
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