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Keywords:

  • Great Basin;
  • media;
  • Nevada;
  • Yucca Mountain.

ABSTRACT. Place imagery in printed news is a vital but overlooked feature of the public debate regarding the disposal of the nation's nuclear waste in the proposed Yucca Mountain repository northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. A content analysis of newspaper coverage reveals that participants use Great Basin imagery in the rhetorical strategies involved in making arguments for and against the site. This article identifies specific elements in the news-production process that privilege certain conceptualizations of the Great Basin over others, and it highlights alternative visions that have appeared in editorials, travel pieces, and commentaries. Taken together, the data and analysis suggest that journalistic sensitivity to value-laden imagery can result in more balanced and critical news accounts of public debate.