Media, Ecology and Conservation

Author: John Blewitt
Pub: Green Books
Price: £14.95

Media, Ecology and ConservationMedia, Ecology and Conservation explores how media engages with animal conservation. The cover indicates that: ‘The work and achievements of media/conservation activists are located within a cultural framework that simultaneously loves nature, reveres animals but too often ignores the uncomfortable realities of species extinction and animal cruelty.’

Blewitt conveys the abstract content in a contemplative and engaging way. The book focuses on the filmic discourse of advertisements, conservation campaigns and documentaries and scrutinises the depiction of animals. Many representations are decried as emotive, idealised images, which aim to evoke sympathy for the plight of wildlife, but instead reflect our disconnected relationship with it.

It is concluded that these inaccurate representations are due to the reality of the situation being ‘too grim’, and as such commercially unviable. Blewitt explains: ‘Audiences shy away from hard truths and major media companies will do so too, relying on comforting images and the ‘love of nature’ argument to do the necessary conservation work.’

Nonetheless, the power of the media to induce positive change is noted: ‘With action, images are a tangible force to be reckoned with, giving hope and possibility to all of us, for ultimately we are all animals whose habitats and futures are in danger.’

The book examines the inextricable fate of humanity and wildlife, looking at conservation from a fresh perspective. It also looks at the culture/nature dichotomy and considers the philosophical and psychological complexities of the topic. After exploring the relationship between ‘art’ and ‘reality’, Blewitt argues for ‘not just an image’, but ‘a just image’. In its quest for the truth, the text also gives us an insight into our own nature.
Judith Pearson