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Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Professor Philip Steinberg

Steinberg, P.E., Bruun, J.M. & Medby, I.A. Covering Kiruna: a natural experiment in Arctic awareness. Polar Geography. 2014;37:273-297.

Author(s) from Durham


At a time when the Arctic is attracting increasing international attention and a variety of actors are positioning themselves in anticipation of future developments, news reporters across the world face the challenge of explaining why the Arctic is relevant to the lives and realities of audiences, some of whom are far from the region itself. This challenge was felt particularly profoundly in May 2013, when events and controversies surrounding the Kiruna Arctic Council meeting tasked journalists around the world with explaining to their audiences what it means to have a legitimate interest in the Arctic and why the Arctic matters on a global scale. Media coverage from the eight Arctic Council member states, six candidate states, and six existing permanent observer states thus presented a natural experiment in Arctic awareness. In this article, an analysis of 280 news stories reporting on the Kiruna meeting is used to reveal how the media frame the Arctic as a region of increasing global significance – a region in which present-day participation is a strategic positioning for the future, and in which political presence holds symbolic significance for geopolitical relations far beyond the region's latitudinal borders.