Media have a “bias for featuring agricultural industry, politician, and water managers' voices,” according to a new study from UC Merced.

Across more than 300 articles over a five-year period in the study, media largely pitted discussion of groundwater management as a battle between urban areas and the agriculture sector, the paper finds. Disadvantaged communities and groundwater-dependent ecosystems were “poorly represented” in newspapers.

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“If stakeholders do not see themselves in relationship with the resource in the media, they may be less likely to engage in the decision making,” write the paper’s authors.

They argue this misses the primary goal of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which was to redistribute this resource across many stakeholders and across generations.