Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dan Shurbsole


This thesis explores the print news media discourse surrounding the dispute between Manitoba and North Dakota over a flood mitigation plan in Devils Lake North Dakota. In order to do so, critical discourse analysis was applied to news media from a seventeen year period during the dispute. Findings were compared between media sources as well as to pertinent policy documents. The thesis finds that the political arena provided by local newspapers as well as the discourses of scale, confrontation, history, and economics had the largest effect on the dispute’s public face. A total of nine findings within these areas are discussed for their relationship to the dispute. Existing concepts from within geography are acknowledged to place these insights into the broader set of geographical and water management discussions. It is concluded that research on environmental conflicts needs to pay special attention to news media and other forms of discourse creation, or promotion, in the public sphere in order to better understand these conflicts, broaden the scope of values involved and promote the potential for efficient conflict resolution and water management.