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Research – Recent Research – Media Portrayal


Tragedy in the Adventure Playground: Media Representations of Mountaineering Accidents in New Zealand. 
Author: Davidson, Lee, Leisure Studies Jan2008, Vol. 27 Issue 1, p3


On 31 December 2003, three mountain guides and their three clients were swept 500 metres down Mount Tasman, New Zealand's second highest mountain, by an avalanche. The three guides and one client died. The tragedy and its aftermath generated exceptional national newspaper coverage for a mountaineering accident in New Zealand. This paper explores the media representation of mountaineering through a case study which analyses the newspaper reporting of this fatal accident.

Theories about the processes of news production are used to understand the newsworthiness of this event, and how it was simultaneously represented, interpreted and constructed by the media. In addition, an analysis of the narrative themes in the newspaper stories about the accident highlights the way in which the story was told in terms of certain narratives about risk and responsibility, with implications for the debate about the safety of outdoor recreationists in New Zealand's 'adventure playground'. These narratives are discussed with reference to theories about the socio-cultural construction of risk and contemporary approaches to the problem of mortality.

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