The beginning (again)…

I say “again” because I wrote an entire post, and then my web browser decided to not respond, and not want to find a solution to it not responding…I have now learned that it is a very wise idea to save my work as I go (which is always a good idea)…

A little background….

I am coming to you from the Green Lab at CEU, after a long day at work. I work at the headquarters of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC), located right next to Budapest in Budakeszi. I interned there over the summer, where the idea of my thesis was born. One of the many tasks I had over the summer was to transcribe the happenings of the 61st General Assembly in Milan, Italy, which included a Global Summit on Hunters United Against Wildlife Crime. There were 22 hours of recordings of professionals from all over the world talking about the problem of wildlife crime, including poaching. One of the main themes that emerged was that, in general, the public’s view of hunting, and in particular trophy hunting, is negative. There was a lot of speculation as to why this is the case, but media portrayal of certain events was the mentioned several times. This is becoming an increasingly difficult problem to address as the Internet and online posts become more prevalent in our daily lives. The past couple of years have turned out several Facebook posts and news articles on big game hunting. I am sure you all have heard or seen images relating to this, particularly with the big commotion raised over Michele Bachmann, Kendall Jones (the cheerleader), and Corey Knowlton (the man who bought a black rhino permit in Dallas for $350,000). The portrayal of these hunters in the media was not particularly flattering, often labeling them as “killers”. The pictures and articles about these hunters resulted in threatening comments from a huge number of people, often threatening their lives and the lives of their families.

More often than not, hunters see themselves as conservationists before they see themselves as hunters. You may be wondering, how is this possible? Aren’t they doing something illegal and morally wrong by “killing” these beautiful creatures? While I could go on and on about why trophy hunting is beneficial to conservation, for now I refer you to the CIC’s website, and in particular their “Publications” page where you can read their newsletter and other publications for more information on the topic. Their most recent newsletter, in fact, has an article about the Markhor Award that was awarded to a conservation project in Tajikistan.

The thesis

I would like to explore how trophy hunting is portrayed in US media, particularly how a known democratic newspaper (the New York Times) portrays it versus a known republican newspaper (the Washington Post). This idea came after I met with my thesis adviser, Dr. Tamara Steger, last Friday. It was our first “official” meeting, after my semester at the University of Manchester. After catching up on the happenings of my summer at the CIC and my semester at the UoM, we discussed the feasibility of my project, and more importantly where to begin.

After deciding that assessing how trophy hunting is portrayed in US media in general may not be the best way to go about it, we decided to take the two sided approach that I described above. My first task is to search the archives of the NY Times and the Washington Post for articles written on trophy hunting over the past 2-3 years.

When doing research I find that there is no way to plan everything out before beginning, you kind of have to just jump right in and see what you find. I could think of all the ideas in the world about how I want to assess these articles, but the reality is, I can’t decide much until I see what there is. I have another meeting with Tamara this Friday to discuss what I found and how to proceed from there, so I should get cracking on my article search!

Until next time,

C.

Cape Buffalo

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