National Geographic’s June 2018 magazine titled “Planet or Plastic?” drew attention to a growing problem throughout the world: ocean plastic. The eight plastic-related articles in the magazine are an example of science communication as a critical method of not only disseminating information but also raising awareness of the marine debris issue and urging action to mitigate the plastic problem. Four of the articles are featured in this research, showcasing narrative strategies as a means to communicate the marine plastic crisis.
Narrative rhetoric looks at how stories are a persuasive method for people to understand the world. This research uses the narrative rhetoric approach of rhetorician scholar Robert Rowland to explore the narrative strategies used to communicate the urgency of addressing the marine plastic dilemma in National Geographic’s June 2018 magazine. Rowland’s concepts of narrative rhetoric—which state that narratives inherently have a theme, a plot, a scene, and characters—are applied to the four featured plastic articles. The analysis illustrates how science communication can tell a story, using narrative to both inform and create a persuasive argument to take action on plastic waste in the environment.
Chang, K. N. (2020) Analyzing National Geographic as a Case Study for Identifying and Utilizing Narrative Strategies in Environmental Communication (Master's thesis, Oregon State University, Corvallis, United States).