Communicating a Marine Protected Area Through the Local Press: The Case of the National Marine Park of Alonissos, Northern Sporades, Greece
Local distrust for Marine Protected Area (MPA) managers is emerging as an important factor obstructing the fulfillment of MPA objectives, and, thus, there is a need to develop a means of enhancing relationship building between MPA managers and local people. We used the National Marine Park of Alonissos, Northern Sporades (NMPANS), Greece, as a relevant case-study to investigate whether the local print media's framing of the marine park and its management affected locals' attitudes. We conducted a longitudinal review of local newspaper articles pertaining to the NMPANS during 1980-2008, and we conducted telephone interviews with local people. We found that salience of the NMPANS in the local print media remained limited and sporadic, the main stakeholder remained the centralized public sector, and the regional print media was rather detached, moderate, and largely supportive of the NMPANS throughout 1980-2008. The progression of the management periods of the NMPANS, however, was accompanied by increased importance of the NMPANS, increased deviance from conservation as the chief objective of the NMPANS's establishment, a shift from presenting facts to presenting reactions, and a shift from a positive to a mixed image of the NMPANS. Locals who relied on newspapers for local news were better informed about the NMPANS, more likely to accept the NMPANS, and more likely to participate in meetings regarding the NMPANS regardless of gender, age, and occupation than those who did not rely on newspapers. The local print media may be utilized as a free-choice learning vehicle to enhance the value of an MPA among local people and to enhance the development of trust between park managers and locals through a proactive, empowering, and cognitive media strategy.