Covering wildfires: Media emphasis and silence after two WA wildfires

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This article examines salient topics and textual silences in the media coverage of two major wildfires in Washington State. A significant body of research has examined the importance of media coverage in framing disaster events, yet gaps remain in scholarly understanding of wildfire media coverage. In this article, we explore the following questions: How did the print media cover the Carlton Complex and Okanogan Complex fires in Washington State? What topics and locations were generally featured or ignored, and why? How did wildfire media coverage change after firefighter deaths? To answer these questions, we draw on three sources of data: print media coverage, address-specific data of burned homes, and demographic descriptions of impacted towns. We find that media coverage largely overlooked sites of greatest loss, failed to provide a contextualized discussion of firefighter safety, and generally ignored issues of climate change and inequality.

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