Abstract

Media communications are least studied in river basin development projects. This paper aims to develop a longitudinal study on how a water resources development megaproject was reported by the world newspapers during its whole life cycle. The development of the Three Gorges Dam project in China (1982–2015) was taken as an example. Newspaper perspectives on eight evaluation themes: time, cost, quality, risk, benefit, social impact, environmental impact, and organization management were extracted from eight newspapers in the UK, the USA, Australia, and Singapore using a content analysis approach. The results show that the media coverage mainly appeared in the construction phase, with peak reporting times occurring in transition periods. Social and environmental aspects were the main concerns of the eight selected newspapers. The tone of the news coverage on the Three Gorges Dam was generally negative. These findings implied that media communications provide valuable insights into the social and environmental complexities of megaprojects in river basin development.

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